'Hire only quality foreign workers'

PHOTO: 'Hire only quality foreign workers'

SINGAPORE - Employers should ensure that they hire quality foreign workers to get around the challenge of the Government's tightening of foreign labour, said Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, chairman of non-governmental organisation Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC).

"With multi-skilled and multi-qualified workers, the output will be better (and) productivity will be higher. Companies and employers will (stand to) gain," he added.

Mr Yeo, who is also a Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, was speaking on the sidelines of the MWC's annual Deepavali celebration held at Farrer Park Field last evening.

He renewed his call to the Ministry of Manpower to set a qualification requirement for the renewal of work permits. This, he said, will place "foreign workers chiefly as an augmentation to the Singapore workforce and not as a cheaper alternative to local workers".

An emphasis on quality will create a more level playing field and unfair competition imposed by cheaper sources of labour will be cut down, he explained. Doing so will also benefit migrant workers, as "better-skilled foreign workers will not be so prone to ill-treatment and abuse", he added.

Since MWC - which champions fair employment practices and the well-being of migrant workers in Singapore - was established in 2009, about 1,200 dispute cases were handled annually in 2009 and 2010. This rose to 1,500 last year.

Mr Yeo also urged employers to consider foreign spouses of Singaporeans as an alternative and "ready (source of) manpower".