Slavery of the poor in Singapore described by labour MP

Low wage workers are constantly working over-time while getting pennies to survive in Singapore.

TODAY file photo

“Trapped by the need to make a living for themselves and their families, these workers are prone to be shackled in servitude to the masters who control them, all because of the very limited jobs they can undertake given their age and skills. When the circumstances of being poor force you to ‘work till you die’, that means you have become beholden to those circumstances – a form of slavery in itself.”, said the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Member of Parliament Zainal Sapari.

A mandatory 13th month bonus should be implemented for the low-wage workers, and prohibit reduction of employer’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution for older workers, among other proposals.

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Mr Zainal mention that his choice of words were meant to draw attention to the situation and raise public awareness.

“Some of these workers, they don’t have much of a choice. You look at the cleaners, sometimes that is the only job which they can do… and because that is the only option they have, they unfortunately have to take what is given to them, they are not in any bargaining position.” he said, reiterating the sense of helplessness felt by low-wage workers.

A blog posted by Mr Zainal on the January 2016 cited that he was shocked to learn the cleaners at that time were paid $600 a month, the same amount which his father earned back 35 years ago.

“To me, this amounted to slavery of the most vulnerable and it must end. They say poverty is not by choice, but a reflection of society; and I fully agree. It is our responsibility to work together to become a better society – one that is inclusive, and one that ensures there is no slavery of the poor,” as he emphasize the need to help the poor.

The issue of “Slavery” is still largely unsolved due to the cutthroat cost cutting from the companies in order to win contracts. Inherently, will be bad for the economy in the long run as it will only get worse.

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