The past year has been tough on everyone due to Covid – including our migrant workers. They were the ones who were at the forefront of the initial Covid battle in Singapore, when a major outbreak was spreading in the dormitories. In addition, they have had to face additional pressures from being separated from their family members, with little knowledge of when travel restrictions may be lifted. Some also fear for their families back home, who are likewise facing fierce Covid-19 battles and outbreaks.
Hence, we think that more can be done to show them our care and concern, even as they work hard to build our homes. Here are three things that Singapore can do to show our migrant workers some love:
Ensure their safety when they are transported around Singapore
Previously, the issue of transporting migrant workers around safely was thrust to the spotlight when multiple accidents occurred. These accidents, which are preventable, led to the deaths of some migrant workers. It prompted public outcry on their safety when the issue of transporting migrant workers via the back of lorries was highlighted to Singaporeans.
Thankfully, Labour MP Melvin Yong has spoken up for them on this topic on multiple occasions.
First, he pushed for employers to transport workers via buses (with seatbelts too!) instead of lorries. Second, he spoke up in Parliament and asked for speed limiters to be installed in lorries that are used to transport workers. He hoped that this would deter speeding and safeguard the lives of our migrant workers. In case you are curious, Minister S Iswaran has confirmed that heavy vehicles are already required to install speed limiters. That’s great news and we hope that more employers can be encouraged and convinced to transport their workers safely via buses.
Bring them into Singapore safely!
Covid-19 has caused delays in construction and BTO projects in Singapore due to manpower shortage. Hence, we are pleased to hear that a pilot programme to bring migrant workers into Singapore safely has been launched in July! This programme ensures that the welfare and safety of migrant workers are prioritised as they are brought in to Singapore.
The process includes proactive Covid-19 testing of the workers over a 14-day period before their departure for Singapore. After arrival, these workers will be required to serve a stay-home notice and adhere to health protocols and safe management measures. This could ensure the overall wellbeing of workers before they even commence work. This is a much-welcomed initiative as we continue to need migrant workers to build our BTOs in spite of Covid-19.
Gift them with lovely gifts like cookies!
An initiative, called “Birthday Makan”, saw migrant workers at The Leo Dormitory receive handmade cookies on July 4. The initiative is started by Welcome In My Backyard (Wimby), which is a volunteer-run campaign that aims to bridge the gap between migrant workers and the rest of the Singapore community.
Between April and mid-June, members of the public were able to sponsor a bake, ranging between S$2 and S$5 each, at any of the six participating bakeries.
Ms June Ling (pictured above), owner of Cookie Crumbles SG, is one of the bakers on board the initiative. She said the entire process has been an eye-opening one.
“Before this, the topic of migrant workers has always been an ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ matter to me. But after listening to Wimby’s pitch, I thought it was a great project to embark on, and it was something I wanted to explore,” said Ms Ling.
Such sweet gestures will not go unnoticed by our migrant workers and go a long way to putting smiles on their faces!