ST Forum letters: ST readers share their views on foreign workers and their living standards in Singapore

Businessman Ho Kwon Ping in November last year suggested having a deferred savings scheme for foreign workers, weighing in on a longstanding debate on foreign labour. This came amid growing concerns that stricter foreign worker policies are hurting businesses.

This week, the Foreign Employee Dormitories Bill was passed to improve the living conditions of foreign workers but it applies only to large dorms housing 1,000 or more workers.

Here's a sampling of views on the different aspects of foreign worker policies.

Tighter rules: Why stop at large dorms? 

By Tham Tuck Meng (The Straits Times, Jan 23, 2015)

The new law, however, covers only dormitories with at least 1,000 beds. So I am concerned over whether conditions at smaller dormitories will improve.

If the intent of the new law is to set baseline standards for dormitory operators, then it should cover all dormitories, especially the smaller ones where living conditions are likely to be less favourable.

Read more here.

Foreign labour not a must-have for firms

By Pan Fu Cheng (The Straits Times, Jan 23, 2015)

Companies that sign up for the Productivity and Innovation Credit grant must be willing to embrace technology to reduce their need for cheap foreign labour.

Firms that say they cannot survive without foreign workers should make way for those that can.

Read more here.

Hiring foreign workers comes with responsibilities

By Bernard Menon, executive director, Migrant Workers' Centre (The Straits Times, Jan 19, 2015)

Tthe MWC has advocated strongly for quality over quantity in migrant worker recruitment - bring in skilled migrant workers to plug labour gaps and complement our workforce, rather than large numbers of lower-skilled migrant workers who are essentially cheaper alternatives to local workers.

Read more here.

No proper accommodation, no work permit

By George Wong Seow Choon (Dr) (The Straits Times, Dec 9, 2014)

Ttie accommodation to approval of work permits.

Employers should show they have adequate facilities to accommodate their workers before their work permits are granted.

Read more here.

Benefits of a CPF scheme for foreign workers

By Martin Lee (The Straits Times, Nov 17, 2014)

The present foreign worker levy system can be converted into a scheme where every foreigner working here contributes to the Central Provident Fund... This has four immediate benefits...

We should bear in mind that the original intent of the levy was never meant to be for revenue, but rather to be a pricing mechanism to regulate the number of foreign workers in Singapore.

 Read more here.

Idea on use of worker levies deserves our support

By Kennard Chan Yanting (The Straits Times, Nov 17, 2014)

This group of foreign workers which the suggestion is trying to help would include the many construction workers, cleaners and security guards who toil in our midst and work long hours but earn paltry wages. Many of them also have to pay for their own living expenses in Singapore.

Read more here.