More foreign workers getting help from MWC

More getting financial, legal help from Migrant Workers' Centre

More foreign workers received help this year from the Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC), with more than $500,000 in financial assistance given out.

This is more than double the figure given out from the Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund last year. This amount went towards meals or was paid ex gratia to workers who cannot fully recover their salary claims, for instance.

So far this year, the centre has housed more than 530 workers - also double last year's number - and provided more than 87,000 meals.

MWC chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said yesterday that the higher numbers are because the centre started handling cases referred by the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management since August last year.

"We expect these numbers to be the norm going forward," he told reporters at a sports carnival for workers at Terusan Recreation Centre in Jurong.

But he said there are no signs of an overall increase in disputes involving foreign workers here.


"We are trying to work more closely with (the Ministry of Manpower) and employers to extend better employment assistance and have a more structured employment assistance programme to assure them that they can go on to a new job in Singapore," he said.

There are times when employers are already in financial difficulties by the time workers come forward.

For example, a group of 27 workers who were owed eight to 12 months of salary were unable to fully recover their salary claims as the company director had filed for bankruptcy.

The workers were evicted from their accommodation due to unpaid dormitory bills.

The MWC arranged housing for them and paid out $30,000 to help them meet urgent financial needs such as family living expenses.

Mr Yeo also attributed the greater assistance given out this year to more workers knowing about the MWC's work, as it has been increasing the number of foreign-worker ambassadors who help with outreach at dormitories and at events.

There are now 3,000 ambassadors, up from 1,200 last year. The aim is to have 5,000 by 2020, he said.

Yesterday's sports carnival was organised by the MWC to celebrate the International Migrants Day, which is tomorrow.