MOM needs to regulate how blue collar workers are treated.

(Photo - Terry Xu)

The sad reality of capitalism is that there will always exploitation by profit driven businesses who do not see their employees as human beings. They are resources for the maximisation of profits. In this case of a construction worker whose salary was drastically reduced without even being informed directly by his employer, it is simply an exploitation of those among us with the least bargaining power. A construction worker heavily in debt to the people who brought him into Singapore with no right to stay in the country unless his employer sponsors his Work Permit not going to be in a position to fight for his rights.

It seems naive that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) does not seem mindful of the fact that whether or not the employee agrees to his drop in salary is completely irrelevant to his employers. What’s a blue collar worker without any resources going to do? In most cases, they won’t dare to challenge their employers. Being so heavily in debt, what other choice do they have but to suck it up?

Looking at the way the construction worker was informed (via the MOM and not his employers) and the degree of the decrease in salary, it is apparent that the employer in question has zero regard for the welfare of its employee. They see him as nothing but a dispensable statistic. The MOM by not regulating this type of behaviour by unethical employers is simply enabling this outrageous behaviour on the part of the employers.

Shouldn’t there be a limit in place on how much the salary can drop by? Capitalism does not reward ethical behaviour so unless the government steps in to regulate it, this kind of exploitation will continue. I applaud activists like Kirsten Han and Jolovan Wham for their efforts to publicise these appalling incidences. Without their work, we the public would remain ignorant of such bullying within our society. However, now that we are aware, we need to put pressure on the MOM to do something about this.

If reports are to be believed, this is not an isolated incident by far and the MOM are aware of it. Why then have they not taken any remedial actions?

As a result of the spotlight shone on the plight of our domestic helpers, their working conditions have improved with their rights clarified thereby providing them better protection. Clearly, regulations make a difference and this case is no different. I implore the MOM to look at this as soon as possible.

No one can read about this situation without seeing how manifestly unfair this is.

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