Indians seeking work in Malaysia will be protected, says envoy

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Kuala, Lumpur, Jan. 26 (ANI): Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia Ashok K. Kantha has that Indian nationals arriving here for work under a new bilateral labour accord will not be entitled to a minimum wage, but their interests will not be overlooked.The Star quoted Ambassador Kantha as saying that New Delhi has accepted that Malaysia preferred to let demand and supply dictate wages, but Indian workers would still be "protected" as Indian immigration authorities could bar the departure of those considered underpaid.

"The important thing is that recruitment will be done fairly with all sides - workers, employers and recruiting agents - protected. A joint working group will be established to define things clearly. Malaysia will host the first meeting," he said in an interview in conjunction with India's 60th Republic Day celebrations today.The agreement was signed in New Delhi on January 3 between Malaysian Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi.

There are about 150,000 Indian nationals working in Malaysia, most of them in the service sector and others in construction and agriculture, making them the third largest foreign workforce here.

India had been seeking an agreement with Malaysia on manpower recruitment since 2003, wanting a "benchmark" minimum wage (which the high commission then set at RM600) and dispute settlement mechanism.

Kantha, who was posted here in 2007, said the new agreement drafted in June 2007 would also streamline the recruitment of Malaysian workers in India.

On other matters, he said two-way trade last year was expected to have crossed the USD 10billion mark, adding that the upward spiral would continue despite the global economic slump.

The envoy also said a comprehensive economic co-operation agreement to consolidate trade between both countries was expected to be finalised by year-end, with the next round of talks scheduled held here from February 10-12. (ANI)

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