Forum: No cost-effective alternative to foreign workers

Well-meaning and patriotic Singaporeans have come forward to offer help to foreign workers here in any way they can, in a show of appreciation, compassion and empathy.

While it may be true that we have an over-reliance on foreign workers in the construction industry, those who repudiate the policy should provide viable cost-effective alternatives (Don't cut foreign worker levels, say business groups, May 28).

Australia, Japan and Hong Kong are often cited as places where the construction workforce is comprised mainly of native citizens. Based on a conservative estimate, the average hourly wage of a construction worker is around A$30 (S$28) in Australia, around 2,000 yen (S$26) in Japan and around HK$325 (S$59) in Hong Kong. With an eight-hour working day and 20 days of work in a month, the monthly wage would be around $4,500 in Australia, around $4,200 in Japan and around $9,500 in Hong Kong.

Even before taking into consideration the added cost of safety measures that must be adopted post-Covid-19, be prepared for labour costs alone to at least double should we eschew foreign labour. And this would result in substantial increases in project prices.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)