Forum: Ensure basic workplace comforts for all workers

Outsourced workers using Suntec City's air-conditioned rest area called The Crystal Place, which is available round the clock for 334 users on different shifts.
Outsourced workers using Suntec City's air-conditioned rest area called The Crystal Place, which is available round the clock for 334 users on different shifts.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

An advisory by the Ministry of Manpower and the National Trades Union Congress recommends that about 77,000 resident workers in the cleaning, security and landscaping sectors be given access to comfortable rest areas that also offer them a measure of privacy (Outsourced workers set to get proper rest areas, facilities, Dec 10).

While this advisory is welcome, given that what is being asked for is so basic to human dignity - a safekeeping area, seats and cool water, in Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad's words - we expect that these provisions would be extended to all workers employed in these sectors, whether resident or foreign.

A large number of workers in these sectors are non-resident migrant workers holding work permits, who would also appreciate the guarantee of these basic provisions, but may be unable to speak up to request such things for fear of losing their jobs.

Transient Workers Count Too has long advocated for narrowing the gap between migrant workers and resident workers in terms of work conditions and salaries.

Optimally, employers should willingly provide proper rest areas, drinking water and accessible toilets for workers.

But if not, we would encourage the Government to take an active role in ensuring these basic comforts at the workplace are met for all workers.

Deborah Desloge Fordyce

President

Transient Workers Count Too

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2019, with the headline 'Ensure basic workplace comforts for all workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe