SINGAPORE: The Migrant Workers' Centre is expanding operations to help more foreign workers in Singapore.
By 2014, it will have a larger head office, a Geylang branch and a help centre for migrant fishermen.
According to the Manpower Ministry, there are close to 1.1 million rank-and-file foreign workers in Singapore as of December 2012, not counting employment pass holders.
The Migrant Workers' Centre says the number seeking help is growing.
Yeo Guat Kwang, chairman of Migrant Workers' Centre, said: "We were helping about 1,200 a year in the beginning. Now we help about 1,500 workers. With some of the recent incidents, I think there is greater awareness of some of these dispute resolutions and what we can do to help the workers."
Cases like the illegal strike by SMRT bus drivers from China last year have highlighted disputes between foreign workers and their employers.
The Migrant Workers' Centre says its key objective is to make sure those who need help get it early.
By year end, the centre will have a new, larger head office along Serangoon Road, catering to Indian and Bangladeshi workers.
The existing Migrant Workers' Centre on Rangoon Road will continue operations till early next year.
On top of the services it is already providing, Channel NewsAsia understands the new centre will also have a temporary shelter that can house up to 12 workers.
And in January next year, a second branch will open in Geylang, closer to the workers from China living there.
A Seafarer's Welfare Centre will open at the Jurong Fishery Port in the second half of 2014 to help migrant fishermen who currently do not have easy access to help on employment-related issues.
The centre is also working with authorities to pilot a job placement scheme for workers who are stranded and jobless in Singapore - either due to pay disputes or pending injury claims.
Mr Yeo said: "It's important also for us to understand the problem - the problem that workers have to stay here is because they still have disputes pending.
"It is important for us not only to just ask MOM to expedite the process, but at the same time to provide them with shelter and at the same time, see how we can help them have a temporary job for them to tide over the difficult time."
Mr Yeo said the job placement scheme can start as soon as relevant cases come up.
Currently, only those who are prosecution witnesses in the Manpower Ministry's investigations are allowed to find work in the country. - CNA/ir
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