Firms ‘too powerful over foreign workers’

Posted by on November 19, 2011 in Media Coverage, News

Today newspaper carried the gist of TWC2’s  press release, pointing out that giving employers total freedom to terminate and repatriate migrant workers is the source of much exploitation.  The newspaper’s edition of November 15, 2011, also carried additional comments by TWC2 immediate past president John Gee, suggesting that employers wanting to effect early termination be required to provide supporting reasons.

Full text of the published story below:

Today, November 15, 2011

Firms ‘too powerful over foreign workers’
by Lin Yanqin
Updated 08:28 PM Nov 16, 2011

SINGAPORE – While the recent raid on foreign worker dormitories has drawn welcome attention to the treatment of foreign workers here, more needs to be done to address the “root cause” of employers having “total freedom” to terminate work permits, a migrant advocacy group said yesterday.

Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) reiterated in a press release that the “ease of getting new work permits to replace those sent home, and the use of repatriation agents who often detain and confine workers against their will” also contribute to mistreatment of foreign workers.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) could consider more “equitable” options to address this issue, such as making the transfer of the workers to other employers when their original employers say they have no work for them the default option, rather than sending them home.

TWC2 executive committee member and immediate past president John Gee told Today that the conditions for repatriating workers should also be made more explicit in the law so that employers have to show concrete reasons for doing so, and workers should have the right of reply.

These suggestions, among others, have been proposed to the MOM. “They have responded to say they have concerns about cost and practicality (of some suggestions),” said Mr Gee.

Currently, the MOM has a Temporary Jobs Scheme, which is extended on a case-by-case basis to workers on Special Passes to help them seek employment.

The scheme is only open to foreign workers who are assisting in MOM’s investigations and prosecution, so that they can sustain themselves during their stay in Singapore when investigations or prosecution are ongoing (Amended 08:18 PM Nov 16, 2011). LIN YANQIN

TWC2 is an organization that is dedicated to assisting low-wage migrant workers when they are in difficulty. We are motivated by a sense of fairness and humanity, though our caseload often exceeds our
means.

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