At this moment, more than 900,000 migrant workers are living in custom-built dormitories on the margins of society in Singapore, which has an increasingly ambivalent attitude to their presence.
Despite the fact that Singapore needs cheap labour to fuel the fastest growing economy in the world, its government has introduced higher levies for low skilled workers in a drive for higher productivity focusing on quality rather than quantity.
However, a year after the new strategy was first announced, low skilled workers are still flooding in, and activists say that levies are illegally deducted from migrant salaries and protection of rights further weakened.
As a result, after having to pay illegal fees to make it to Singapore, workers find themselves deported by their very employers. A convenient flow of powerless new work force is thus insured, earning the workers more kickbacks on further illegal recruitment fees paid to agents.
While a lot has been said about the economic statistics and the recruitment industry, with its many layers of brokers and agents who benefit of the migration business, very little is known about migrant workers lives in Singapore.
With the intent to understand better, and to document, the everyday living experience of this large minority, I moved in one of the workers dormitories. Over a period of three months they shared their stories and their everyday life with me, here is the result of our experience.
By Manu Valcarce. See more in manuvalcarce.co.uk
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