Malaysia palm plantations urge govt to let foreign workers return
Malaysian palm plantations have urged the government to let foreign workers return, warning of severe damage to the palm-oil industry if it is not granted an exemption from a hiring freeze.
The Malaysian Estate Owners' Association implored the government in a statement on Friday to consider the survival and sustainability of the sector and let grower companies that have been unable to recruit locally hire foreign workers immediately.
The palm-oil industry in Malaysia, the world's second-largest producer and exporter of palm oil, faces a worsening of its chronic labour shortage. It relies on foreigners for 70% of its plantation workforce and almost all its field work, especially people from Indonesia and Bangladesh.
Thousands have left the plantations for home as borders closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding pressure in an industry where 2% to 3% of foreign workers leave each year.