YESTERDAY, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said that local were not taking up jobs at the plantations sector despite providing “lucrative income”, especially during harvest season.
As a result, she said there was a shortage of workers and this affects the harvest, especially in oil palm plantations.
“We do not have enough workers for the harvesting period. Locals can do the job if they want to but they say it is a difficult task.
“The salary of these farmworkers is lucrative and actually depends on the company. Some pay a basic salary of RM1,200 and plus the incentives and overtime allowance, they can get more than RM2,000 a month,” Bernama reported her as saying.
However, netizens took no time to turn the tables on the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) leader for saying RM1,200 was a lucrative salary.
“Paying RM1,200 is lucrative? The Minister must be seriously out of her freaking mind. Will that income be enough to put food on the table and pay for other basic necessities for a family man?
“Can the employers pay for their accommodation, utilities and food subsidies? When overseas farm employers are willing to pay RM12K to RM15K, definitely the payment given to our farm workers here are peanuts even considering the lower cost of living in our country,” said user Karunakaran Krishnan Pillai.
User Stephen Lim added: “What is a lucrative income, RM1,200? No rest day pay, no public holiday pay, no overtime pay. Live in sardine container. What about medical and hospitalisation coverage? Don’t talk nonsense.”
Another netizen Ridhuan Kamal reminded Zuraida that RM1,200 was basically a minimum wage, which translates into the lowest pay allowed by the Government.
It is to note that in July last year, the Government revised the national poverty from RM980 to RM2,208.
The new revision would mean that over 400,000 households in the country earn monthly incomes below this level were considered poor in 2019.
Public listed firms, yet offer low pay
User Christine Loo queried on why plantation companies refuse to pay their workers higher salaries when most of them are public listed companies, having high share prices.
“All these plantations are public listed and share prices are high. Why cannot pay more attractive to help the many jobless and poor locals? Provide these plantation workers with good benefits and proper housing like apartments so that they can oso bring their spouses to live with them.
“Of course, locals are not interested cos most have spouses and families as such would not want to live in dormitories. If you look at Vietnam that is what they do for their factory workers.”
User Amirul Azhar Omar retorted by giving an example on how the Government did away with Thai paddy harvesters by automating its services.
“In the past, seasonal Thai workers used to come to North Malaya to help harvest padi. Then the govt introduce mechanised harvesters. No more Thai workers.
“Plantation owners got to mechanise and automate their system. No more excuse. No more cheap foreign labour. And that minister should not behave like a plantation recruiting agent.” – Oct 17, 2021.