Employers should treat foreign workers with dignity

These workers enter and work in Singapore legally, often forced by circumstances to come here so that their family back home can enjoy a better life.
These workers enter and work in Singapore legally, often forced by circumstances to come here so that their family back home can enjoy a better life.PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore's dependence on foreign workers has become irreversible. Without construction workers from Malaysia, Myanmar, China, India and Sri Lanka, our construction industry would come to a standstill. And domestic helpers from the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar also play an important role in our households.

These workers enter and work in Singapore legally, often forced by circumstances to come here so that their family back home can enjoy a better life.

Coming here is not easy. I have worked with many construction workers who told me they have to raise, on average, $5,000 to pay an agent for their journey here. I employ a maid, and it is a similar story, with agent fees deducted from her monthly salary.

We hear quite frequently of cases of delayed salary and maid abuse. I appeal to employers of construction workers and of maids to treat them with dignity and respect.

Some of the stories of maid abuse that have been reported, such as physical abuse and starvation, are inhumane. Have some compassion and be more gracious towards fellow human beings, regardless of their race or nationality.

Neo Poh Goon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2019, with the headline 'Employers should treat foreign workers with dignity'. Print Edition | Subscribe