Hours before the business starts for the day, queues already start forming. By the time Bak Kwa (Barbecued Pork Slices) retailer opens its New Bridge Road outlet at 9am, the queue would have spanned across the width of 2 neighbouring buildings.
But you would notice that there are a number of migrant workers in the queue.
According to a news reports, some of these migrant workers start queuing from 11pm the previous night, in the days leading up to Chinese New Year.
Well, this “practice” is not new. Some years back, migrant workers groups had already raised some concerns about migrant workers queuing on behalf their employers to get packets of Bak Kwa.
While the workers are being paid – $5 per hour – according to news reports, is it really right for employers to ask their migrant workers to do such stuff?
Some lie on makeshift cardboard pieces or stools overnight.
If you really think about it, this practice really is about exploiting the migrant workers.
According to the Manpower Ministry’s guidelines, employers are advised not to request their workers to run non-work related errands. Foreign workers are generally allowed to perform jobs as stated in their work pass applications.
Migrant Workers’ Centre’s Chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said that requesting workers to queue for Bak Kwa is not an advisable practice.
“Our caution to employers should therefore be to strictly deploy workers only in the jobs stated in their work permits. To do otherwise might, technically, be interpreted to be wrongful deployment. “
Spot on, I say. Migrant workers are employed for reasons stated in their work passes. Anything over and above that should really be exploitation of these workers.
Even if they are paid a fee and given meal allowances, it’s just not right as it could possibly affect their work the next day, given that they have to spend long hours queuing overnight.
Should anything happen during the course of queuing overnight, are these employers willing to bear the consequence? I doubt so.