Listening Report: Issues Faced by Migrant Worker Communities in Singapore

In Feb 2020, our Founding Chairperson Anthea and changemaker member Abhishek gathered several changemakers in the migrant worker space to produce a set of graphics encouraging employers to take proactive steps to support their domestic workers during COVID-19.

As infection clusters broke out in migrant worker dormitories in Mar 2020, the group transformed into an emergency response collective, coordinating with each other and the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) to deliver masks, food and other essentials to workers stuck in dormitories across Singapore.

It was the first time that NGOs and ground-up movements in the migrant worker community came together to collaborate at such a large and wide scale.

While masks and food were helpful in providing immediate relief, they seemed like short-term fixes for the longer term issues that affect a worker’s well-being in Singapore.

Many of these issues have persisted for years, despite the best intentions of many people who’ve been trying to help. Beyond providing aid in the short-term to help, we wondered:

What more can we do to significantly improve the well-being of our migrant workers, that we cannot do alone?

Over 9 months from Nov 2020 – Oct 2021, we read different research reports that examined issues faced by migrant workers, from folks like the National Volunteer Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the Majurity Trust, Asia Philanthropy Circle, etc. We conducted Focus Group Discussions with members and changemakers within the migrant community and also consulted with 11 leaders – from dorm operators, academics, doctors, NGOs, employers and migrant workers.

Through these conversations, we realised that we need to rethink the way we look at issues affecting migrant workers because they are more complex than we realize as they…

  1. May be difficult to frame due to competing perspectives
  2. May have inter-connected root causes
  3. May require inter-dependent responses from different stakeholders

This document is a compilation of all the listening we have done in the past 9 months. Through our listening, we discovered 4 key issues that migrant workers face that persist because they are complex. 

Please read our Listening Report to find out more about what we discovered and how you can help! 

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