Sunday 22 June 2014

Improving the welfare of Singapore Migrant Workers- Yen Yuen


This article talks about the various policy proposals to improve the rights of migrant workers.  In Singapore, the issue of migrant workers’ rights has become increasingly pressing ever since the two major foreign-worker-related incidents took place.
Firstly, Singapore could take the lead with more comprehensive regulation of employment agencies. By accrediting overseas employment agencies, which observe a pre-set cap, would be the only way to ensure that workers are not burdened with undue debt and thus being beholden by their employers. Such policy is significant as it is unlikely that countries such as India and Bangladesh would come up with such comprehensive legislation to protect the rights of its citizens as they feel that increasing employment rate for its working population is much more important than ensuring their labor rights.  

Secondly, mandating the provision of the complete terms of employment would ensure that migrant workers are clearly aware of their rights and reduce any mismatch in expectations between both parties.

Thirdly, mandating electronic payments allow workers to immediately remit a share of their income to their loved ones. This would encourage greater fiscal discipline, limiting the possibility of workers spending unnecessarily.

Lastly, the government could perhaps use a wider set of criteria to assess these companies employing the workers (number of workplace safety breaches and condition of the workers’ dormitories) and create a rating. This rating could determine the fraction of the initial bond they get back. This way, employers would be encouraged to treat their workers well in order to obtain a greater incentive.

In conclusion, migrant workers deserve their rights and should be treated fairly. It is undeniable that it is a challenge to ensure this, however, there is much that we can do that does not come at the expense of society.

I feel sympathetic toward the migrant workers. These migrant workers come to Singapore in hope of earning enough income to provide for their family. However, as some of them are uneducated, they unknowingly get cheated by their employers as there are no provision of the complete terms of employment. As a result, they are forced to work in dire conditions. Thus I feel that it essential that the government implement some work polices to improve their working conditions and rights. After all, they contribute significantly to the Singapore’s economy. Without them, Singapore would not be who it is today.
Among the four ways mentioned in the article, I agree mostly with the first point. Since some countries do not come up with comprehensive legislation to improve the rights of migrant workers, it is needless to say that Singapore should come up with one as it plays a part in ensuring the rights of migrant workers. Since Singapore is a country with great law and order, I greatly believe that such legislation could be carried out successfully, thus improving the rights of migrant workers.

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