Interns with Transient Workers Count Too are typically given a research project. Varun Karthick was with us in November and December 2021 and his topic was the hoary one of blacklisting.

As part of his duties, Varun helped with case calls and he noticed that many workers expressed concerns whether whatever action they were about to take might lead to their being barred from working in Singapore again. Unfortunately, hard facts about risks are impossible to come by, and this is partly due to the Singapore government’s preference for non-transparency in whatever they do.

Yet, at the same time, the government has put in place channels for employers to make unsubstantitated allegations against workers, with no way for workers to rebut or overturn such accusations. That these channels exist makes it hard to dismiss the ogre of blacklisting as mere imagination — they must surely exist for a reason?

This is a major issue for low-wage migrant workers, and TWC2’s observation is that such fears often lead to workers choosing not to seek remedy for whatever abuse (e.g. salary short-payment) they might be suffering. To this extent, one can say that the State has created mechanisms to institutionalise injustice.

Varun then set out to investigate the issue. Whilst he cannot come to any definitive conclusion as to what the situation is given the lack details in the public domain about policy and processes, he has compiled a useful summary of what is known.

His paper (PDF, 20 pages) can be downloaded by clicking the icon at right.