December 15, 2011
For immediate release
TWC2 welcomes a new policy announced by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on 4 December 2011 to replace the compulsory English written test for newly arrived migrant domestic workers with a mandatory three-day settling in programme (SIP).
However, we call for MOM to ensure that the dignity and rights of domestic workers be respected and emphasised by the training provider(s) who are awarded the tender to roll out the SIP. The programme should not just be focussed on equipping migrant domestic workers with the practical knowledge of living and working in Singapore and the responsibilities of a holder of a Singapore work permit but should also inform workers of their rights under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, the Employment Agencies Act and other laws.
Workers should also be equipped with information as to the channels of help that they can turn to should these rights be breached and the processes they need to undergo in seeking recourse when their rights when that happens. In particular, workers should be reassured that they are fully entitled to refuse to obey instructions from employers or agents that violate Singapore’s laws or breach the terms of their contracts and that when they do so, they will have the support of the competent authorities.
TWC2 would like to see an explicit requirement in the tender criteria against the use of patronizing and discriminatory language and the display of such attitudes by trainers when communicating with the newly-arrived domestic workers.
TWC2 also calls for MOM to set up a multi-stakeholder review panel that includes an NGO representative, an employer, a domestic worker and an employment agent to review the programme and activities proposed by the prospective training provider(s) before the programme is rolled out. This is to ensure that the SIP is well-balanced and sensitive to the concerns of these stakeholders, taking into account their collective wisdom. The review panel should also be re-activated periodically to review the execution of the programme.