May Day weekend of fun and games for migrant workers

Mr Muthukaruppan Muneeswaran (far right), a 20-year-old process maintenance and construction worker from India, was among 5,000 migrant workers who played games and feasted on local delights at an event organised at the Westlite Papan dormitory in Ja
Mr Muthukaruppan Muneeswaran (far right), a 20-year-old process maintenance and construction worker from India, was among 5,000 migrant workers who played games and feasted on local delights at an event organised at the Westlite Papan dormitory in Jalan Papan yesterday.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Migrant worker Govindasamy Sakthivel, 28, batted, hurled and fielded balls for 10 straight hours on a field in Soon Lee Road yesterday.

Never mind that he had to put in long hours as a construction worker in the past week. "I'm not tired at all. I'm very happy because we get to play against others only once a year," said Mr Sakthivel from India, captain of his cricket team from construction firm Dragages Singapore.

They faced a team from steel recycler NatSteel Holdings in the finals of the annual Cricket Challenge, organised by the Singapore Contractors Association yesterday. It was a close match but Mr Sakthivel's team emerged champions.

It was one of several events held by companies and non-profit groups over the long May Day weekend to recognise the contributions of Singapore's migrant workers.

Over at the Westlite Papan dormitory in Jalan Papan, a group of 5,000 migrant workers was treated to a feast of local delights such as curry chicken and satay yesterday. Organised by accommodation provider Centurion and non-profit groups Project Chulia Street and HealthServe, the event included games, free check-ups and a health talk.

This morning, a group of Bangladeshi workers will launch a poetry book on the experiences of foreigners in Singapore, at a book fair at Jurong Penjuru 2. The Singapore Bangladesh Society and dormitory operator MES & JPD Housing are behind the event, which includes a comedy show.

Yesterday, advocacy group Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics issued a statement appealing to the authorities, companies and unions not to overlook low-wage migrant workers who may be victims of the economic downturn. It put out some recommendations on how migrant workers could be protected.

"We should allow workers who have not been paid because their companies are insolvent to be compensated their full salaries from foreign worker levies or from forfeited security bonds," said its acting executive director Jolovan Wham.

"We also need to ensure that employers have considered hiring retrenched migrant workers before approving new work permits from those abroad."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2017, with the headline 'May Day weekend of fun and games for migrant workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe