Low-skilled migrant workers make up nearly 20% of the population in Singapore; most of them from India, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines. Their work is often labour-intensive and compensation is less than modest. To secure a job in Singapore, they often have to pay high agency fees. It is estimated that a foreign domestic worker takes up to 6 months out of a 2-year contract to pay off her debt to an agency, whereas a construction worker may take up to 18 months.
Migrant workers are not only exploited through low wages, which may be further reduced due to illegal deductions by employers, they also struggle with long working hours with no rest days and poor accommodation.
These workers also lack the bargaining power to negotiate with their employers, as current employment laws are inadequate in offering them protection. More often than not, migrant workers are silenced by the risk of force repatriation and unpaid salaries.
- 1 out of 4 people in Singapore are migrant workers64
- 187,900 migrant workers are on Employment Pass, 178,600 are on S Pass, 997,100 are on work permit, with 231,500 working as domestic workers and 326,000 in construction65