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SINGAPORE: MIGRANT WORKERS


by workers, especially when these centres host events such as sports competitions, cultural celebrations and movie screenings, which are organized regularly. More recreation centres will be built over the next few years.


As a society, Singaporeans also accept that migrant workers will continue to go to popular gathering spots during their days off – whether to catch up on news from home or meet friends and relatives from across the island for a few hours. Unlike larger countries which have foreign worker enclaves, Singapore’s small size impels migrant workers and locals to live in close proximity. Singaporeans are generally big- hearted and accommodating, and can


understand the need for these shared spaces.


Education and outreach Additionally, migrant workers are educated about their rights and responsibilities, and avenues of recourse, even before they come to Singapore.


An In-Principal Approval Letter with important information, such as the worker’s official employer, occupation and salary details is required to be sent to the worker by the prospective employer before he or she arrives in Singapore. After they arrive, we take active steps to reinforce education about their rights, available channels of assistance as well as social norms in Singapore.


A handbook, printed in workers’ native languages, is distributed by government officials to migrant workers when they collect their work passes.


It is complemented by our strong partnership with civil society organizations as well as Embassies and High Commissions of these workers to reinforce our education and outreach efforts.


Besides collaterals, we leverage on worker dormitories and recreation centres to reach out to migrant workers on a continuing basis. About 20 to 30 dormitory roadshows a year are conducted by the government agencies in Singapore on various topics. These have reached out to more than 150,000 migrant workers.


In addition, a newsletter is also published for migrant workers twice a year, with 200,000 copies printed per issue.


Conclusion


Labour migration is a complex, multidimensional and constantly evolving issue that needs careful management. Overall, while I think we have done reasonably well, I contend that there is always room for improvement.


We cannot be complacent. I hope that the sharing of our experience in managing our migrant workforce can offer some useful pointers to countries within and without the Commonwealth who are also grappling with these issues.


The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three | 161


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