Labour shortage faced by furniture manufacturers very worrying

PETALING JAYA: Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, who has learnt first-hand the labour shortage faced by furniture manufacturers, said the problem is indeed very serious.

Speaking to the press on Wednesday after visiting several furniture factories in Muar, Johor, where many worker-strapped production lines have ground to a halt, Mah said he will relate what he saw to the relevant ministry so that the problem can be resolved speedily by bringing in the number of foreign workers needed by the industry, Sin Chew Daily and China Press reported today.

Federation of Johor Furniture Manufacturers and Traders Association president Neo Chee Kiat had earlier pointed out that Home Ministry officials told the federation two months ago that the problem would be resolved within two weeks through official channels.

"But today, two months on, the matter remains unresolved," he lamented.

Disclosing that many furniture manufactures have either closed down or are operating at a loss, he hoped that the Home Ministry would bring in Bangladeshi workers for the industry like before.

In response, Mah said the government is trying to resolve the problem and he is confident the Home Ministry can overcome some technical issues it is facing.

He said 60% of the furniture exported by Malaysia is produced in Johor where there are some 500 factories.

The manpower shortage these factory operators are facing is a major problem, he said.

Mah said to overcome this problem, the Home Ministry is engaging various ministries to work out a solution, including providing furniture makers special foreign labour permits.

This year alone, a total of 8,048 foreign workers were brought in for the furniture industry.

He said to reduce furniture makers' dependence on foreign workers, his ministry has set up the Wood Industry Skills Development Centre in Banting, Selangor, and it has already trained some 12,000 locals for the wood-based industry.





Follow @partigerakan