Migrant Workers

Migrant workers in Singapore

Migrant workers’ ease of access to services and programmes is indeed encouraging. In the host country, they need to feel a sense of belonging. Integrating migrant workers into host communities via social services, social activities and adequate access to justice is commendable. This is especially necessary for low and mid-skilled migrant workers. Workplace safety is also an increasing concern in global labour migration.

Ensuring the social protection and welfare of migrant workers is important. However, they are exploited by agents, middlemen and recruitment agencies in origin countries before they leave for their destination. Lack of access to accurate information, lack of education, lack of pre-departure orientation programmes, lack of governmental regulation, lack of the oversight of recruitment processes – these are only some of the numerous loopholes still not being addressed in origin countries.

At least in ASEAN, could there be a standardisation of labour migration requirements, processes and regulations? A regional benchmark will help to ensure that migrant workers are not cheated, exploited and taken for granted. With respect to low and mid-skilled migrants, special attention ought to be given to the credibility of recruitment agencies. The situation whereby migrant workers incur huge debts via recruitment fees and agent fees, to move for work can be avoided if there is sufficient mutual political will.

Receiving countries and sending countries need to meet one another halfway in the governance of labour migration. There is an important and urgent need for more cooperation and collaboration so that exploitation can be reduced. The transit process needs to be re-examined.

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