ARE FOREIGN WORKERS’ LIVES REALLY BECOMING BETTER?

S’pore becoming a better place for foreign workers

I refer to the article “Making Singapore a better place for workers who come from afar” (Channel NewsAsia, Dec 12).

Recruitment fees increase from $7,000 to $16,000?

It states that “Urging authorities to look into the payment of recruitment fees, he says new migrant workers have to pay almost S$16,000 to come to Singapore for work, compared with the S$7,000 he paid when he first came here”.

This may highlight that things may have gotten worse for some foreign workers, as it may literally mean that they have to work for free for more than a year to pay off the recruitment fees, which have increased by 129 per cent in this instance ($16,000 divided by $7,000).

Very low pay?

As to “In the past, many workers would be duped to come to Singapore on false promises made by their prospective employees. TWC2 executive committee member Debbie Fordyce says: “We’ve seen some action taken by the MOM to curb this sort of behaviour, but it still exists”” – the huge increase in foreign worker levies in recent years may have caused the pay to remain low to compensate for total costs – with workers still as I understand it – earning a basic salary of as little as around $20 a day.

This “low pay” issue may affect the wages of Singaporean workers too.

Lower-pay domestic workers preferred? 

With regard to “Mr Wham calls for FDWs to be included under the Employment Act. “Unlike other employees in Singapore, domestic workers are excluded from the country’s main labour law. Basic labour rights, such as guaranteed public holidays, annual leave, sick leave, limits to their working hours, are denied to them,” he says” – with the minimum pay requirement for Indonesian and Filipino domestic workers – several media reports have said that more employers are opting for Myanmar domestic workers whose pay is much lower.

From the above, it would seem that much may still need to be done as we celebrate International Migrants Day.

 

 

Leong Sze Hian

A.S.S. Contributor

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