New centre opens in Tampines for domestic workers, employers to seek help

The CDEConnect centre at office complex Income at Tampines Junction was officially opened on July 24, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Migrant domestic workers and their employers now have a new venue where they can seek help or advice from the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) over work issues.

The CDEConnect centre, located at office complex Income at Tampines Junction, officially opened on Sunday (July 24).

It joins another centre at 75 Pasir Panjang Road - which opened in mid-2019 - as a place for CDE to offer support to migrant domestic workers and their employers. CDE is an initiative by the National Trades Union Congress.

Both venues are spaces on weekends for workers to rest and recharge through recreational activities, which include festival celebrations and handicraft workshops.

The centres are also venues where CDE interviews first-time migrant domestic workers to assess how they are adjusting to living and working in Singapore, on behalf of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

The interviews are conducted in-person, in the workers' native language and within six months after they start work.

"Since 2017, CDE has conducted over 60,000 such interviews with migrant domestic workers," said MOM in a statement on Sunday.

The interviews were done virtually from April 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but have returned to an in-person format from the middle of this month.

An MOM spokesman told the media that more than 24,000 workers were interviewed by CDE last year.

Common issues raised during the interviews include the late payment of salaries, illegal deployment of workers by their employers, and performance of household chores in an unsafe manner.

In most cases, CDE will first check with the employers if there had been a misunderstanding or miscommunication between them and the workers.

If the case is deemed serious, CDE will inform MOM or the police.

The spokesman also said there are plans to start the next phase of the initiative by the end of this year. This involves interviewing the workers a second time within a year of them starting work.

At Sunday's event, Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang said the interviews will help ensure that issues faced by workers are identified and addressed early.

(From left) Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang, CDE chairman Yeo Guat Kwang, Ms Velika Mustika, a senior associate with CDE and a migrant domestic worker inside one of the interview rooms at CDEConnect at Tampines on July 24, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

"Early assistance or intervention can... be very useful because through the process, we can clarify the roles, responsibilities and rights of both parties," she added.

"That will certainly help in fostering stronger, healthier and more supportive relationships between domestic workers and their employers."

CDE chairman Yeo Guat Kwang, who was also present at the event, said there are plans to set up a third centre in the northern part of Singapore.

Separately, on Sunday, a fair for migrant domestic workers was held at the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast) Hub in Eunos.

Organised by non-profit organisation Fast, the event featured booths offering training programmes as well as telco, courier and remittance services for the workers.

There were also talks and workshops on various topics such as crime prevention, financial planning and mental wellness.

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