Did you know that a Malaysian fruit picker and sorter in an Australian farm can earn up to RM39 per hour?
A report by The Malaysian Insider revealed that local agents have been helping Malaysians find jobs as fruit pickers in Australian farms as the monthly wage there is far higher compared to Malaysia.
With the deteriorating local economy, Malaysians are more eager than ever to look for greener pastures, with many resorting to working odd jobs in foreign countries.
The past month has seen many Malaysians sharing their thoughts on how they would rather work '3D' (dirty, difficult, dangerous) jobs in Singapore, instead of being professionals in Malaysia.
According to these people, their monthly earnings are far higher and more profitable when they opt for odd jobs in countries with better currency rates and higher minimum wage.
Shah Alam based agent, Izwan, explained that hardworking Malaysians can earn from RM6,000 to RM12,000 per month as farm workers in Australia
Izwan said he has sent around 300 to 500 Malaysians to Australia since he started working as an agent 2½ years ago.
“In a month, between 10 and 20 people would go to Australia to work as farm workers,” he said, adding that the main reason was money.
He said agents in Malaysia would deal with contractors in Australia, who would find the jobs, accommodation and transport for the newcomers. Some contractors are also Malaysians who will deal with farmers on matters, such as the number of workers needed.
He said on some farms, which had between 100 and 200 workers, about 70% to 80% were Malaysians.
However, the reality of working in these farms aren't as peachy as it seems.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that a number of Malaysians have fallen victims to labour black market when working in these Australian farms.
Malaysians were willing to work in farms and factories in Australia to counter economic decline back home, but end up caught in a labour black market run by "unscrupulous" companies, an inquiry into illegal labour was told.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported today that Aira Firdaus told the inquiry that victims were not speaking out against the exploitation of serious underpayment, visa abuse and job insecurity out of fear.
Aira, a witness for the National Union of Workers in the Victorian government inquiry on the matter, said many arrived in Australia "just to work and did not want to have anything to do with any other issues."
So they put themselves in a position where they're really vulnerable, which gives an advantage for the contractor to abuse them," she said.
While Malaysians may rejoice over the fact that they can get paid about AUD13 (RM39) per hour, Aira enlightened that the amount is below the Australian minimum wage which is AUD21 (RM63)
The report said the work offer was up to 12 hours a day, six to seven days a week and largely in the horticulture and poultry industry.
Workers were also charged some A$90 (RM270) per week for housing and A$40 (RM120) per week for transportation to the farm.
The report also stated that the inquiry is due to report its findings to the Victorian government by July 31.
Meanwhile, another agent named as Azmi said that Malaysians usually take up these jobs in Australian fruit farms to clear their debts in a short period of time
“Because of money, they do farming work despite having no experience in farming. It is seen as the only way for them to earn more money in a short time to settle their debts.
“Besides working as fruits pickers, they also will do part-time work, such as working in fast food restaurants, delivering newspapers and other odd jobs,” Azmi said.
Other types of travellers included professionals who wanted to earn extra money on a break, as well as young adults who wanted a different life experience.
“Most of them have jobs in Malaysia, but they don’t have enough money,” another agent who only wanted to be known as Aidil said.
While some Malaysians prefer picking fruits to earn a better living, this young engineer from Penang wants to sell chicken rice in Singapore:
When the government informed of their decision to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi nationals to work in '3D' sectors, many Malaysians expressed their dissatisfaction over the matter. So, the questions remains, why don't young Malaysians want to work in these fields?