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Lawyers, social agencies must work together to help workers

I applaud the group of lawyers in the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) for ensuring that abused foreign workers have equal access to the law ("Bringing justice to foreign workers"; Jan 15).

While it is a good initiative, its practicality should first be studied.

Some migrant workers would not dare to give negative feedback about their errant employer, for fear of repercussions. They cannot afford to antagonise their boss, lest they be sent back to their country.

Even if they are prepared to undergo due process of law, there is no guarantee that their cases will be quickly and effectively dealt with in court. This would necessitate providing them with basic needs like food and shelter during the interim period. It is, thus, important for the AGC lawyers to work closely with the relevant agencies and social institutions when victimised foreign workers seek legal aid to resolve disputes with their employers.

If properly administered, the group's work will be a beacon of hope for vulnerable workers seeking redress against unfair treatment and exploitation.

Currently, we have about 1.4 million foreign workers, most of whom work in construction jobs and other difficult jobs that locals are not willing to do.

They have contributed to improving the quality of life we enjoy today. They deserve our appreciation for their hard work, and the least we can do is to ensure that they are happy and treated fairly by their bosses.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 22, 2017, with the headline 'Lawyers, social agencies must work together to help workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe