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However ready we are to help workers in need, systemic improvement of the situation for migrant workers can only be achieved through advocacy. It is advocacy that leads to better policies and enlightened public opinion.
In Transient Workers Count Too’s experience, problems faced by migrant workers are multi-faceted and arise from several roots.
Poverty in the source countries and the need to find work is one of them; though unfortunately, it is not something that TWC2 can directly address.
What is more troubling is that in Singapore there are observable gaps in laws and regulations, made worse by shortcomings in enforcement of those rules that exists. And when complaints are lodged by workers, administrative processes do not always operate smoothly towards fair resolution. TWC2 engages with policy-makers to highlight these gaps and propose solutions. Executive committee members and staff meet with officials from the Ministry of Manpower for frank discussions from time to time.
Equally important is the part played by social attitudes. No amount of regulation, however thorough, can cover all bases. Things like verbally abusive supervisors, disregard for safety, and lack of consideration for cultural differences may be hard to police on a day-to-day basis; their eradication depends on changing public attitudes — something that TWC2 works towards through our public advocacy. We do this through:
To support our advocacy, we conduct research into migrant worker issues and compile data from the actual cases we see through our Direct Services and the Cuff Road Food Programme. This helps ensure that we have facts and figures at our disposal.