WPFW in the “sweat industries” earn a basic monthly salary of between S$350-400; $700-800/month is possible after forsaking rest and recreation. Those in the service industries start around $700/month but with incentives thrown in, could take home close to S$1,800/month. However from discrete interviews, I found many were earning close to $1,000 with incentives thrown in. Many WPFW come from traditional sources such as India, Bangladesh, China and Thailand, and to a smaller extent from Myanmar and Vietnam.
**Different ways to have your meal.
Sometimes I wonder whether workers’ safety has been compromised and why it has to take so many fatal road accidents to happen before concerted actions are taken by the authorities. I am also reminded of incidents where workers are dumped by their employers when they suffer serious work-site injuries because the workers are not covered by Workmen’s Compensation.
On a visit to a restructured hospital, I came across many foreign workers in our A&E department. You might think that many foreign workers are seeking medical attention but you later find out that it is a group of foreign workers comforting just one worker who needs the medical attention. Another typical situation I often get to hear is when the A&E medical officer asked the worker, “Where is the problem?” The standard answer would be; “Doktor, I got many, many pains. I, two day already cannot standing”. Did the foreign worker meant two days of pain or “today”?
Ninety percent of our population lives in public housing, we are better educated, effectively bi-lingual, and our wages are comparable to those in Developed Countries. We hear of government officials and employers talk of the negative Singapore attitude, the arguments about foreigners taking away jobs from Singaporeans and the case for raising the foreign worker quotas. Do you quibble if these foreigners hold these jobs when you just lost your job? While there are some 16,000 vacancies this year in the service sector – finance, transport, communications, hotels, restaurants, food courts and social services - according to the Employment and Employability Institute (E2I), I wonder how many Singaporeans are actually rushing to grab at these – and if they will ever stay on if hired.
It is tough work for WPFW coming to Singapore? Is there life after work for them?”
**Progress from public phone/pagers to mobile phone.
When Sunday comes, it means a lot to different people; ask any NS soldier whether he can forgo week-ends. Some WPFW go shopping at City Plaza, some choose sight-seeing of Singapore on a bus. Some might even think of the corner of Lorong 22 and Geylang Road or Flanders Square. Occasionally we might encounter some exceptions like the story of Raja and Rani. It will certainly make any employer “eye-ball” pop out. Fraternizing of this sort is not tolerated because it can lead to other undesirable consequences such as unwanted pregnancies. Most household employers prefer to terminate the maid’s contract and send her home but at the end of it all, Raja continues working in Singapore.