India, Malaysia to sign MoU to protect workers

June 17th, 2008 - 7:35 am ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, June 16 (IANS) Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia Ashok Kantha has said New Delhi has agreed to the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to protect the interest and welfare of its citizens working here. Kantha said Malaysian Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam had been invited to sign the MoU on behalf of Malaysia, the Tamil Nesan newspaper reported.

He said the MoU would help ease the problems being faced by the Indian workers. There had been cases where the workers had been given lower pay than promised while some had been allegedly tortured by their employers, he added.

There are an estimated 130,000 Indian workers, both skilled and semi-skilled, working in different sectors in Malaysia, a country that depends heavily upon import of manpower to work in its burgeoning tiger economy. However, recruiting agents and middlemen often exploit workers.

An MoU with Bangladesh, envisaging intake of 300,000 workers, was suspended last October after many Bangladeshi workers were stranded following a dispute. One of them died.

Malaysia has of late pursued a “jobs for locals” policy and wants to keep out foreign workers in high profile jobs. There are also pressures to keep foreign workers away from being seen by foreign visitors and tourists as part of Malaysia’s tourism branding.

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