Migrant Workers’ Plight Pre-Covid-19 Reminds Us That S’pore Can Do Better

Ever since Covid-19 hit migrant workers’ dormitories and exposed their living conditions, their less-than-ideal situations have been brought to centre stage in mainstream media.

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When pictures of their meals hit the Internet, Singaporeans passionately remarked how they should have better conditions while serving their Stay-Home Notice (SHN).

But few of us realised those are the conditions they’ve grown accustomed to.

A Facebook post by a migrant-worker-focused initiative, ItsRainingRaincoats, gave us a reality check with an account of a typical work day for our workers.

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Incidentally, this reminded many of us that Singapore can – and should – do better for them, all the time.

A day in the life of a migrant worker

The post related a typical daily routine of a migrant worker, sans Covid-19.

From dusk to dawn, the writer shares that they’re kept in cramped, hot environments, jostling with fellow workers and performing manual labour in the scorching Singapore heat.

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Workers enjoy breaks with simple meals of curry and rice, which sometimes may not be enough. The writer also shares that they sometimes take naps without mattresses.

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Their humble routines continue daily, for years on end until they’re able to return home and see their families, physically unharmed but undoubtedly bearing emotional scars.

It’s a tall ask for just $18 a day.

The backbone of society

As highlighted in the Facebook post, many of these workers don’t have a “Plan B” — earning money here and remitting it is their only option.

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Leaving one’s country to work – no matter the occupation – is an arduous experience. The least Singapore could do is to ensure that they’re treated humanely and fairly.

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They play a pivotal role in allowing our society to function smoothly by maintaining the backbone of our infrastructure.

Showing kindness to migrant workers

ItsRainingRaincoats – aka the heart & soul driving this timely reminder – is a charitable organisation aimed at migrant workers.

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The initiative first began when a worker attempted suicide after going unpaid for 6 months. ItsRainingRaincoats shares that he had come to Singapore to make an honest living, but received “unfair treatment” instead.

From donation drives to communicating with their families, the group has done a great deal to give visibility and spread kindness within the migrant worker community ever since.

Now, they’re reminding us that it’s time for Singapore to step up, and start doing better for these men who give our country so much.

We must do better for our migrant workers

That said, we believe that we can aim for fairer treatment of our migrant worker community not because of what they do for our country, but simply because we’re all human.

Unfortunately, it’s taken a pandemic to bring daily working conditions to light.

We sincerely hope their situations aren’t swept under the carpet once the Covid-19 case counts stabilise.

Moving forward, Singapore has to do better for them, not only because they deserve it, but because we owe it to them.

Featured image adapted from Facebook.