Close to 150,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Singapore are in danger of losing their jobs after the Singaporean government decided to strictly implement a policy in July which will limit the number of foreign workers in that country.
According to "State of the Nation's" Victoria Tulad, the Singaporean Ministry of Man Power (MoM) will be limiting the number of foreign workers because of complaints from the locals.
The report said Singapore locals are claiming that foreign workers are becoming competition when it comes to job hunting, education, housing, and social services.
Although the policy has been in place for more than a year already, a detailed regulation of the policy was released in February which may worsen the situation for foreign workers.
According to the regulations, starting in July, three major changes will be made:
(1) the minimum salary requirement of foreign applicants seeking a work pass will be increased
(2) the monthly levy of companies that hire foreign workers will be increased
(3) the total ratio of foreign to local workers will be reduced in favor of the latter
Close to 150,000 OFWs affected
Similar to the US, Singapore is considered to be a melting pot of different races.
According to the National Population and Talent Division of Singapore, the country's 5.31 million population is comprised of 3.82 million local residents and 1.49 million foreign residents.
The foreign residents include 146,613 OFWs in Singapore, according to data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
It also adds that Singapore is the third land based destination of OFWs aside from Middle Eastern countries like Saudi and United Arab Emirates which top the list respectively.
Not only Filipinos
Meanwhile, a Philippine labor official said Filipinos are not the only foreigners who will be affected by the Singaporean policy.
“Maaapektuhan ang ibang lahi din naman po," said Vicente Cabe, the Philippine Labor Attaché to Singapore.
He said there are just specific industries which will be affected such as the service industry which is easier to replace with local workers.
“Yung ating medical workers like nurses, ay hindi naman po nila basta-bastang mapapalitan yan... May mga sektor din namang walang masyadong Pilipino, like laborers in the construction industry kokonti lang naman ang mga Pilipino diyan,” Cabe explained.
The report cited a Filipina who has been working in Singapore for four years as a hotel supervisor but was laid off due to the policy.
In an interview with Tulad, Joy Malaluan said, “Ang goal nila ngayon is to boost the Singapore economy through the locals, not through foreign workers,” Malaluan explained.
According to Malaluan, some Filipinos are resorting to different means just to have their stay in Singapore as tourists extended.
“Nag eexit sila in other countries para pag bumalik ng Singapore extended yung visit pass nila,” she said.
However, instead of doing this, Philippine authorities said the affected Filipino workers can just look for jobs in other countries, including the Philippines.
“Sa Pilipinas may reintegration programs din naman tayo kung saan matutulungan naman sila na magsimula ng negosyo,” Cabe said.
Not in favor
Lhes Hugo, a Filipino who has been working in the Singapore's retail and service industry for over a year said he was against the policy.
“Against [ako] sa policy pero siyempre MoM na ng Singapore ang nag implement so as foreign workers wala naman [tayo] magagawa kundi sumunod na lang,” Hugo told GMA News Online.
Hugo said he was worried about the policy because it was difficult to find a job especially at this time.
He also mentioned that other Filipino workers in Singapore are generally worried and have been searching for ways to solve this bind that they're in.
“Worried din [sila]. Yung iba nag apply na sa iba para makakuha ng new contract then yung iba waiting for meeting sa office [to discuss possible alternatives],” he said adding that he himself is already preparing for the worst.
“Madami kasing locals ang nag complain about foreign workers. Mas madami na daw ang foreign [workers] kaysa sa locals at mas malaki [pa] ang sweldo [ng foreign workers],” he explained. - VVP, GMA News