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This International Migrants Day, we asked some of Singapore’s migrant workers to share a wish list, the video of which you can see below.
Migrant workers account for 150.3 million of the world’s approximately 232 million migrants (ILO Global Estimates on Migrant Workers, Dec 2015). And Singapore is a popular destination country among many migrant workers. As we thank them for their contributions, we also remember their sacrifices. Leaving loved ones behind to provide a better future for their families, many face a grim reality of exploitation, discrimination and unjust treatment. The issues are not new: hefty recruitment fees, absence of a proper contract, withholding of personal documents, low or unpaid wages, no rest days, lack of access to healthcare, and physical and psychological abuse.
While Singapore has introduced measures in recent years to better protect workers’ rights, we believe more can be done by state and non-state actors to uphold international labour standards for a more sustainable future.
As an urgent priority for International Migrants Day 2017, HOME calls for zero recruitment fees, in line with international standards, and spelt out in the ILO’s Fair Recruitment Initiative. Worryingly, HOME has witnessed recruitment fees soaring in the past year, affecting some of the most vulnerable in our society. HOME has documented foreign domestic workers obligated to pay agencies up-to seven months’ wages and construction and conservancy workers charged up-to a record $16,000 in recruitment fees. This is a crippling debt for many workers and their families.
To tackle this issue, and all issues affecting the well-being of migrant workers, HOME looks forward to continuing our robust, vibrant discussions with the authorities, recruitment agencies and employers in the new year.
Once again, let us work together to implement core international human rights and labour rights, and restore long overdue dignity to migrant workers and their families.
Happy International Migrants’ Day from all of us at HOME!
Sheena Kanwar, Executive Director