U Care Centre helps low-wage workers obtain what is rightfully theirs

The NTUC U Care Centre, a one-stop centre dedicated to promoting the welfare of low-wage workers in Singapore, was officially opened in Nov 2013. Some 5,500 low wage earners have received help on work-related issues from the U Care Centre in Jur
The NTUC U Care Centre, a one-stop centre dedicated to promoting the welfare of low-wage workers in Singapore, was officially opened in Nov 2013. Some 5,500 low wage earners have received help on work-related issues from the U Care Centre in Jurong, set up to help them more than a year ago. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Some 5,500 low wage earners have received help on work-related issues from the U Care Centre in Jurong, set up to help them more than a year ago.

Most who approached the centre were ill-informed of their rights at work, said its director, Mr Zainal Sapari, who is also the National Trades Union Congress' assistant secretary-general. Some did not understand their payslips and, as a result, were not sure about their entitlements, he added.

For workers who were victimised, common issues included non-payment of salaries, miscalculations in Central Provident Fund contributions and unauthorised salary deductions.

In the centre's second year, Mr Zainal, who is also an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol, wants to continue educating low wage workers of their employment rights and entitlements. To do so, he is proposing the centre, which is in Jurong, have more presence in the heartlands, including free legal clinics to dispense advice on employment issues.

"Some of the people who called in were reluctant to drop by because they cannot spare the time to travel," he said.

Ideally, there will be one centre in each of Singapore's four zones, he said, adding that more details would be released at a later time.

As for the new legal clinics, the centre is in talks with the Singapore Law Society to roll out the free service.

"Through our outreach initiatives and efforts to be accessible to more low-wage workers, we hope more will be made aware of their employment rights so that they can work and live with peace of mind," said Mr Zainal.