Fifty men six months into their employment, yet to receive their first paychecks. Each has paid thousands of borrowed dollars to secure his job; money lenders are now harassing their families back home. A maid beaten and locked behind closed doors, reduced to bread and instant noodles for meals. A construction worker in pain with a broken leg from a fall, denied treatment because the employer will not pay for surgery to fix the fracture.
These are not stories from a distant land or exaggerations of an undeveloped nation. These common atrocities are happening much closer to home – in our Singapore.
Nor are they infrequent. New cases show up at Transient Workers Count Too daily.
Yet, low-wage migrant workers are the hidden backbone of our society. They build our award-winning architecture, keep our streets clean and help raise our children.
There are nearly one million of them in Singapore. Coming mostly from India, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines, they make up about a sixth of the total population and are vital to many sectors of the economy: construction, manufacturing, retail and hospitality, sanitation services, marine and petrochemical, and domestic work.
Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) is dedicated to assisting these low-wage migrant workers when they are in difficulty. Join us in helping them.
Migrant workers are disadvantaged by these factors and are among the most vulnerable in our society:
Language and cultural displacement
Legal status that can be revoked at any time by their employers, thus outside their own control
Work options limited to dirty and dangerous jobs
Mostly restricted from changing jobs on their own
Long working hours, fatigue and thus higher risk of accidents
Lack of control over their living conditions, often having to put up with substandard facilities
Social prejudice against their ethnicity, national origin or class
Migrant workers are commonly exploited by:
Having to pay high agency fees to secure a job in Singapore
Low wages, further reduced through illegal deductions
Long working hours or no days off
Doing dangerous work, leading to injuries
Employers refusing to bear the cost of medical treatment
Risk of forced repatriation to the workers’ home countries when they are in dispute with their employers over one or more of the above, without employers settling claims