Social activist Kokila Annamalai slammed the use of lorries for transporting workers by companies.
“Keppel Corporation (CEO: Chin Hua Loh) and Sembcorp (CEO: Wong Kim Yin), for starters are two among the biggest employers of migrant workers in Singapore,” she said in a Facebook post on Sunday (25 Apr). “Their sub-contractors use lorries to transport workers, something they can easily put an end to.”
Ms Kokila noted that both these companies make hundreds of millions in profit each quarter and that it is time for them to speak up, answer questions and demand for change.
This comes in the wake of another accident involving a lorry ferrying workers on Saturday (24 Apr) on Upper Bukit Timah Road, injuring 10 men who were rushed to the hospital for treatment/
The police have said that the 35-year-old driver and nine passengers, all migrant workers, were rushed to the hospital in a conscious state.
It is the second of such accident to take place in less than a week.
Earlier on 20 Apr, a lorry carrying the migrant workers collided with a stationary tipper struck on the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE), involving 17 people, two of whom died.
According to reports, the lorry involved in the accident on PIE was carrying workers employed by Bright Asia Construction Pte Ltd.
TOC has reached out to Bright Asia Construction for its comments.
In her post, Ms Kokila went on to highlight the government’s role in this issue, stating that “larger business costs that small companies might struggle with, like rent of commercial land/spaces, are controlled by the government”.
“The levies that companies pay to the government to bring in a migrant worker could more than pay for buses,” she said.
“If a company can’t stay afloat without putting migrant workers lives in danger every day on the road, then their business model is in the toilet, as are the government’s “pro-business” policies,” she slammed.
Ms Kokila then went on to touch on the Migrant Workers’ Centre, which she notes is prominently featured in every article on lorry accidents.
She called out the centre for not speaking out for workers’ rights to be transported in safer vehicles.
“Their chairman, Yeo Guat Kwang, has insisted that it is “unsafe drivers” that are the problem and instead ran a campaign for migrant workers on how to be safe lorry passengers,” said Ms Kokila.
“Even within its internal logic, this campaign is senseless – if drivers are the problem, why force migrant workers to participate in your charade of how to stay safe as a passenger?”
Ms Kokila highlighted that Mr Yeo is a former People’s Action Party Member of Parliament and the Assistant Director-General of NTUC, yet MWC is labelled as a non-governmental organisation.
She also pointed out how most media outlets do not report which companies these workers are from, or interviewed workers and included their perspectives on these accidents and the use of lorries to transport workers.
“No journalist has asked for comments from the companies, let alone questioned why they continue to use lorries to transport workers / what it will take for them to stop, no journalist has included in their articles how the Humans Not Cargo campaign by migrant worker rights activists is at least 12 years long,” said the activist.
Ms Kokila urged the people of Singapore to prepare to make more demands of the government and government-linked corporations in “louder and bolder ways” to ensure that no more workers are injured or killed this way.