Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Manpower

Job woes: New office to help foreign workers

Worker advocacy group Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) will set up an office with the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) to help foreign workers facing job-related issues, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck said yesterday.

The new office will be located with the TADM's upcoming centre at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Services Centre in Bendemeer Road, and bolster the group's two existing centres in Serangoon and Geylang.

Mr Teo announced this in Parliament during the debate on his ministry's budget, as he highlighted avenues for foreign workers to get assistance if they face employment issues.

The TADM is a dispute resolution centre that helps resolve issues such as payment disputes between employees and their employers.

The MWC said it hopes to time the launch of its new office with TADM's opening next month.

ACTING AGAINST ERRANT BOSSES

Where employers wilfully refuse to comply with the law to pay the salaries due to their workers, MOM will take such employers to task.

MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANPOWER TEO SER LUCK

Mr Teo said the MOM will help see through the valid claims of foreign workers whose salaries have not been paid, and let them change employers and stay on in Singapore to work even if their work passes have been terminated by their existing employers.

"Where employers wilfully refuse to comply with the law to pay the salaries due to their workers, MOM will take such employers to task," said Mr Teo.

Nominated MP Kok Heng Leun had asked the Government to consider reviewing its policy requiring workers to be repatriated once their work permits have been terminated - which often happens during disputes with employers.

But beyond the punitive action against employers and assistance provided to workers, Mr Teo said it was also important that foreign workers be able to return to "clean and safe accommodation after a hard day's work".

Giving an update on the state of dormitories here, he said 48 out of the 50 large dormitories - each housing 1,000 or more workers - have been licensed under the Foreign Employee Dormitories Act so far. The Act came into force in January last year and requires dormitories to adhere to stricter rules.

Over 70 per cent of factory- converted dormitories inspected have also been found to meet additional standards, which came into force in January this year.

These standards require them to put in place facilities such as personal lockers for workers, establish a mechanism for workers to give feedback on living conditions, and install a Wi-Fi network.

"Migrant workers come here to earn a living for their families. We'll continue to work with the employers, employment agencies, NGOs (non-governmental organisations)... to ensure that these foreign workers can work safely and be treated fairly during their stay in Singapore," said Mr Teo.


Danson Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2017, with the headline 'Job woes: New office to help foreign workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe