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MWC pushing for model employment contract for foreign workers

The Migrant Workers' Centre chairman Yeo Guat Kwang says the centre is pushing for establishing standard contracts and a structured skills framework for migrant workers.

SINGAPORE: The Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) is calling for a model employment contract for all foreign workers to give them better protection.

MWC chairman Yeo Guat Kwang spoke about the need for a standard contract that spells out service agreements and employment terms at the launch of the new Migrant Workers' Centre at Serangoon Road on Sunday.

The migrant workforce in Singapore is around 1.3 million - making up a third of the total workforce.

Unlike foreign domestic worker employment contracts, there is no standard contract for work-permit holders.

The MWC said it is pushing for a standard contract that lists all the employment terms with the aim of helping to prevent discriminatory clauses.

The centre is also urging the government to lend stronger support for a more robust dispute resolution mechanism.

In situations where MWC lodges a case for the foreign worker with the Manpower Ministry, it hopes to be consulted as an equal partner during the entire resolution process starting from the point of investigation till closure.

Mr Yeo said: "We are not just trying to refer cases to them. We also hope that we can work together for a much more speedy resolution to resolve most of the disputes in a faster way. For some of the workers who need to go back, (this would enable them) to go back earlier rather than staying here pending the claim."

Mr Yeo added that in the last four years, the number of cases of assisting foreign workers with their claims or disputes with employers has tripled to 3,500 in 2013.

The new help-centre in Serangoon, which is twice the size of the previous one, is timely as it seeks to address the various problems faced by foreign workers.

"We don't know what's happening in the workplace - maybe the job, salary or dormitory problems. We don't understand everything so this programme (helps us) understand as a worker and how to communicate with the government when we have a problem," said migrant worker Vellukannu Mahendran.

The new centre can house up to eight migrant workers during emergencies.

It also boasts a library consisting of books in the various migrant workers' native languages.

And in a bid to provide more recreation for them, there will be movies screened in the centre. Board games will also be available for them to play with their fellow friends.

To further assist migrant workers under special conditions like being temporarily out of a job because of pending claims or disputes with employers, the MWC will be working on offering placement services when possible.

The centre is expanding its pool of company partners to provide employment opportunities for these workers. It will also push for a stronger voice in the granting of Change of Employer status for deserving migrant workers who have been unfairly treated in their jobs.

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