Singapore: Unions extend assistance to migrant worker dormitories

24 April 2020 09:29

The  Singapore National Trades Union Congress (SNTUC) and Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) furthered their concerted efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 particularly amongst migrant workers and those living in dormitories. 

With the circuit breaker measures in place, the MWC has supported the inter-agency taskforce to provide support to migrant workers and dormitory operators. Leveraging the MWC Grassroots Network, which has some 5,000 migrant workers volunteers residing in all large purpose-built dormitories (PBDs), MWC has been able to provide timely ground feedback to the taskforce so that issues and problems can be rectified quickly.

Other assistance includes educating migrant workers on COVID-19 and the precautionary measures; searching and placing stranded Malaysian Work Permit holders with temporary housing; distributing essential supplies like masks, hand sanitisers and toiletries; as well as fundraising to help affected migrant workers. 

Volunteers from all across NTUC and NTUC-affiliated unions and associations also came together to mix, bottle and pack 370,000 bottles of hand sanitisers to be distributed to migrant workers. This was done in partnership with the Temasek Foundation.

MWC had focused their efforts to help affected migrant workers residing in the smaller migrant worker housing facilities and factory-converted dormitories (FCDs) while still assisting Government in the larger PBDs. As compared to PBDs, FCDs may lack the resources to implement proper precautionary measures. Given their more urgent needs, MWC will be directing resources and help towards the migrant workers in FCDs first, prioritising those dormitories where confirmed COVID-19 cases might arise. As part of the latest distribution exercise, MWC will be providing each worker a set of two reusable masks, two disposable masks, a bottle of 500ml hand sanitiser, a bath soap bar and a laundry soap bar. 

The SNTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng was at the MWC Recreation Centre last week to help with the first batch of care packs distribution He also extended his appreciation to the dormitory operators for their hard work during this crucial period and encouraged them to press on as MWC will be by their side to support them in looking after the migrant workers. About 120,000 migrant workers residing in FCDs will be receiving the gift packs from the MWC. 

The MWC is also partnering the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO) to provide food to workers who are unable to secure their three meals during this period. Through the partnership, more than 88,000 emergency meals had been distributed to almost 9,000 workers between 10th to 20th April 2020.