Plantations to be hit by labour shortage

Sun, Feb 14, 2010

National

KOTA KINABALU: Trouble is brewing in Sabah’s oil palm sector. The state could be grappling with a huge labour shortage in the near future, according to Plantation Industries and Commodities Bernard Dompok.

The state’s plantation industry which relies heavily on foreign workers to power their economic growth is forecasting a decrease in such cheap labour.

Dompok said the state’s plantation sector must prepare for this eventuality as Indonesia has stated it will be doubling its land acreage for oil palm. This is expected to reverse the flow of plantation workers to Sabah.

Sabah will now have to wean itself off its dependence on such labour to ride out the shortage of workers in the sector, Dompok said.

“The government is fully aware of the industry’s labour shortage issues but the industry has to change its mindset and shift to a new paradigm as labour scarcity will prove costly,” he said.

The temptation to hire illegal workers is huge due to constant demand and steady supply, that is, until now.

Plantation owners have until now been able to exploit the glut of foreign workers. Such workers have helped keep their profits higher. FreeMalaysiaToday…