Migrant workers from India to enter Singapore in 'calibrated manner' through pilot programme

Migrant workers from India to enter Singapore in 'calibrated manner' through pilot programme

Construction site, workers in Singapore amid COVID-19 (1)
Rails and signs mark the borders of different work zones at a construction site in Sembawang. (Photo: Cheryl Lin) 

SINGAPORE: Migrant workers from India will be brought into Singapore starting July under a pilot programme led by some companies in the construction, marine and process sectors.

This will be done on a "small scale" and in a "calibrated manner", the business associations representing the industries said on Wednesday (Jul 7).

"The end-to-end process focuses on proactive testing of the workers through a COVID-19 testing regime over a 14-day period at specified on-boarding facilities at source country before departure for Singapore," said a media statement by the business associations.

They are the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL), Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI) and Association of Process Industry (ASPRI).

After arriving in Singapore, the workers are still required to serve stay-home notice and adhere to prevailing health protocols and safe management measures.

With the new process, employers have to pay about S$2,000 to S$3,000 more per worker, in addition to quarantine costs in Singapore, a spokesman for the associations told CNA.

"A few hundred workers" from India will be involved in the pilot for the marine and construction sectors, said the spokesman.

READ: COVID-19: Construction industry stakeholders appeal to Govt to bring in foreign workers in a ‘controlled manner’

It comes after a similar trial involving a few batches of workers entering from Malaysia last month to ease the labour crunch in the marine sector. There were no COVID-19 cases among the few hundred workers involved in the pilot so far, said the associations.

"This pilot programme aims to integrate the overseas training, testing and on-boarding process with Singapore’s on-arrival testing and SHN (stay-home notice) protocol to ensure the overall well-being of the workers before they are allowed to commence work," they said in a statement.

"We will continue to carry this out in a small scale and calibrated manner, to better manage the risks involved and validate the robustness of the tightened end-to-end process. 

"If successful, this model will be used to facilitate a steady inflow of workers in a safe and secure manner."

READ: Construction firms hit by India travel ban to get more flexibility to hire China workers

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction, marine and process sectors have been affected by restrictions on the entry of migrant workers from several countries.

The business associations said that since the end of 2019, the number of work permit holders in the construction, marine and process sectors has fallen by more than 60,000, or more than 15 per cent.

"This has resulted in project delays and significant labour cost increase, which in turn affect the viability of businesses," the associations said. 

These include delays on housing and infrastructure projects. The shortage of workers could also result in increased workplace health and safety concerns, they added.

Source: CNA/hm(gs)

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