Tuesday 28 October 2014

Educating migrant workers on their rights, even before they reach Singapore

The Migrant Workers' Centre has produced a new video to explain proper employment practices and workers' rights to migrants.
By Faris Mokhtar, Channel NewsAsia, 26 Oct 2014

Most migrant workers' complaints stem from costly agency fees or false promises of employment conditions made by agents or middle-men in their home countries, according to the Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC).

To tackle this, the local non-profit organisation, with support from the Manpower Ministry, has produced a video that seeks to explain what proper employment practices and workers' rights in Singapore are about, even before they step into the country.

MWC said that while some organisations can seek recourse for abuses that take place in Singapore, there is little they can do to recover overpaid agency fees done overseas.

"It is important now that we put in place this 'Pre-Departure Video' to let them understand more about how and what and when they come to Singapore, what kind of rights they have,” said Yeo Guat Kwang, chairman of MWC. “Because many of them told us before they come, they are already locked in with a big sum of money. And at the same time, they really do not know the terms and conditions that they will face when they come to Singapore and work."

A two-minute trailer of the "MWC Pre-Departure Video" was screened at a Deepavali celebration event on Sunday (Oct 26) evening, which also saw about 5,000 migrant workers receiving free dinner. The event was held at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India.

MWC said it aims to make the videos available in the workers' home countries, at places like the overseas Construction Skills Testing Centres. In Singapore, the organisation plans to screen the videos in workers' dormitories, and on board buses that ferry migrant workers to and from their dormitories and work places.

The video will be made available in the workers' native languages, especially those from India, Bangladesh and China, who are often vulnerable to such employment malpractices.

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