The continued restrictions on movement of migrant workers in Singapore in and out of the dormitories has been called out by various migrant worker rights activist groups in Singapore.
The continued restrictions on movement of migrant workers in Singapore in and out of the dormitories has been called out by various migrant worker rights activist groups in Singapore. The groups and rights advocates have raised concerns of these highly strict restrictions over migrant workers since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic and four month since they are still enforced. The rights groups say that this is giving lot of authority to employers in the country and with no clear deadline on the restrictions, the future of these workers is uncertain, leading to increasing mental stress. The experts on migrant workers rights have also raised questions as to why these restriction rules were not a part of the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act which was passed earlier this year at the wake of pandemic, aiming to deal with pandemic with temporary regulations.
Singapore’s set a good example with their Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act. Hope you’re working on something similar here. @AGOmv @ibriffath @mvpeoplesmajlis @MohamedNasheed @ibusolih pic.twitter.com/8ogZR1c0V7— Umar Hilmy (@umar_hilmy) April 21, 2020
Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State of Manpower posted on Facebook on Monday raising the same concerns. He said that “employers cannot unilaterally impose further restrictions on workers, beyond the prevailing guidelines issued by the authorities.” He further added that these rules would be gradually eased out as Covid-19 cases come under control in the communities.
As per the rules, the migrant workers living in regulated or unauthorized dormitories cannot leave the premises without the permission of their employer except when seeking medical care. Activists say that these rules are highly restrictive and not needed now as most of the dormitories are now clear of Covid-19.
Rights groups also have issued concerns regarding no timeline for implementation of these rules. Lack of proper transparent timeline is also taking a toll on the mental health of workers who are stuck in these dormitories for months together now.
Ministry of Manpower has relayed its efforts on wellbeing of migrant workers, with special focus on their mental health. MOM said that it has been working with NGOs like the Migrant Workers’ Centre and HealthServe to ensure that workers have continuous access to mental health support and assistance. It has also partnered with NGOs to organize activities. For example, HealthServe conducts exercise sessions three times a week for workers staying on cruise ships.
Rights groups have appreciated the measures being taken by the ministry but have also requested for retake on the restrictions and called for easing out of rules on migrants, so that they can return back to work and normal life like the rest of Singapore.