In coordinated statements on Wednesday, business groups and trade associations underlined the importance of migrant workers to Singapore's economy, in response to calls to restrict their numbers after many of them came down with Covid-19.
The groups urged careful consideration of such stricter policies, highlighting the value of foreign labour in different areas, such as in the manufacturing, marine, process and construction industries, given the country's manpower limitations. Attention has been drawn to the living conditions of Singapore's migrant workers since the Covid-19 outbreak in dormitories grew last month. They now form more than 90 per cent of Singapore's confirmed cases, which stood at 32,876 on Wednesday.
In a joint statement, the Singapore Indian, Malay and Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry noted calls for stricter policies, including having fewer migrant workers. But they said the workers' contributions were immense.
"They have enabled Singapore to continue developing as a good home and a good place to do business. Given Singapore's limited workforce, we would not be able to stay competitive in certain sectors otherwise if not for migrant workers." They said migrant workers take on many lower-end jobs. "This allows the vast majority of Singaporeans to take on PMET jobs and help in creating an innovation-based economy as well. Thus, we urge the Government and Singaporeans to carefully consider the next steps on migrant workers," they added, noting most Singaporeans worked as professionals, managers, executives and technicians.
Calling migrant workers the backbone of Singapore's construction, marine shipyard and process sectors, the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman T. Chandroo said it was crucial to take care of them, especially at a difficult time.
As of March this year, there were 720,800 work permit holders in Singapore, excluding foreign domestic workers. Of them, 287,800 were in the construction industry.
There were 194,900 S-pass holders and 193,800 on employment passes.
The Strait Times