Singapore's domestic workers face 'hidden plight' due to Covid-19


Domestic workers in Singapore in the past congregating at a walkway between Lucky Plaza and Tong Building in central section of the island. A lockdown imposed in Singapore to stall the spread of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) has led to increased incidences of domestic helpers being overworked or abused, according to a group that operates a helpline for migrant workers. - The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE: A lockdown imposed in Singapore to stall the spread of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) has led to increased incidences of domestic helpers being overworked or abused, according to a group that operates a helpline for migrant workers.

The Humanitarian Organization for Migrant Economics (HOME) said on Friday (MAy 15) that calls to the helpline had jumped by 25% since the restrictions - called a "circuit breaker" by the government - were introduced on April 7. Most businesses were closed, forcing Singaporeans to work from home.

In turn, some domestic workers - often young women from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines - face "increased work hours as employers are home at almost all hours of the day, leading to an increase in household and caregiving duties," HOME stated.

According to HOME, workers reported that employers had prevented them from going outdoors and denied access to mobile phones.

Other accounts suggest that employers facing financial or employment difficulties arising from the lockdown had withheld salaries.

HOME said that the pandemic and lockdown have "disproportionately affected" some of the city-state's close to 1.4 million foreign workers.

Some 26,098 people in Singapore have been infected by Covid-19, according to Health Ministry data. More than 24,000 are migrants.

While the domestic workers have not faced such direct exposure to the virus, their "plight is invisible in the private sphere of their employers’ households," HOME said. - dpa
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