By Medecci Lineil
I refer to New Sarawak Tribune news article “Stop supplying illegal foreign labors” dated August 5th 2015.
I am disappointed with the Marine Department director Dickson Dollah’s instruction to ship crew manning agencies to stop supplying foreign manpower to shipping companies and riverboat operators in the state.
His excuse was to address the influx of foreign workers especially those without permit.
If he is so concerned about those group why not permits issued to all unpermitted foreign workers as a way to solve the problem?
Why there is a policy to instruct agencies to stop supplying manpower to shipping firms?
To instruct them to do so is merely an attempt to control the supply of labor. Stop supplying manpower will only cause an artificial increase of demand and price of labor in the market.
This is his belief that doubling the price of labor would enable local people to be hired by these companies.
Well it won’t.
If this happens, shipping firms and riverboat operators tend to scale back its operation or in a worst case scenario, they will pass the cost increases to consumers.
Consumers would have to fork out extra money to pay for shipping services. We all know that any business does not want unhappy consumers.
With rising labor price, shipping firms and riverboat operators will scale back their job hiring activity.
While local job seekers will find it even harder to secure work in these companies.
Assuming agencies stop supplying foreign manpower, if a shipping firm wants to hire local workers, they just raises the price until they get the workers they need.
Not only that those locals who hired must attend a three day course conducted by the Marine department with a minimum payment of RM800.
But would the tradeoff be worth it?
The answer is not. Of course the influx of foreign workers drives down the wages, but accepting low wages is a much better alternative rather than not to accept low wages thus remain jobless, right?
Think again, who will benefit from “cheap” shipping services? Local consumers.
Even if director Dickson Dollah argues against low wages, it means he is also denying desperate local job seekers especially poor the best alternative they have to progress for the sake of what amounts to improve their standard of living.
My point is since this is a private economy the choice of whether to hire local or foreign workers should be left entirely to shipping companies and riverboat operators.
First published by New Sarawak Tribune on 10 August 2015.