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MOM Does Monitor the Growth of the Foreign Workforce

  • Ministry of Manpower (5 January 2007): MOM Does Monitor the Growth of the Foreign Workforce
  • Lianhe Zaobao (22 December 2006): I Was Replaced by Foreign Workers


MOM Does Monitor the Growth of the Foreign Workforce
- Lianhe Zaobao, 5 January 2007

Please refer to the letter "I was replaced by foreign workers" by Mr Li Shaokun (Lianhe Zaobao, 22 Dec 2006). We are sorry to hear of Mr Li's experience.  The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) will be contacting Mr Li to help him find work.

2.   Foreign workers strengthen Singapore's economic competitiveness and supplement Singapore's workforce to support our economic growth. They help to create more jobs for Singaporeans.  In 2006, more than 124,500 jobs were created in the first nine months of the year - the highest increase on record - and with about half of them going to Singaporeans.

3.   We would like to assure Mr Li that MOM does monitor the growth of the foreign workforce carefully.  The Ministry requires companies to employ sufficient locals first before they can hire S pass or work permit holders.  Where necessary, it also adjusts foreign worker levies. In fact, in line with the prevailing economic conditions, MOM has raised the foreign worker levy for skilled workers from $100 to $150 from 1 January 2007. 

4.   Nevertheless, we understand Mr Li's concerns, which reflect the challenges of globalisation, and are faced by low wage workers across the world.  We will continue to help Singaporeans in their training and job search. Other government schemes like Workfare will also help low wage workers benefit from economic growth. 


I Was Replaced by Foreign Workers
- Lianhe Zaobao, 22 December 2006

I am jobless again. I am a locally born and bred Singaporean who graduated from ITE and is a “computer precision technician”. After graduation, I started out as an apprentice and became a team leader after a decade of hard work. Though my pay is only more than $1,000, I am still no match for newly-arrived foreign workers. Their wages and levies are all low and they are willing to work long hours.

These foreign workers are unskilled before their arrival. The boss wants us to teach them.  When they acquired the skills to operate computers and machines, it is also the time we would lose our jobs.  Locals are at a disadvantage because of their higher wages, shorter working hours and the need for employers to contribute to their CPF. This is why employers prefer foreigners.

It is cruel of employer to ask locals to train foreign workers and to have them replaced thereafter. I am not sure whether the government is aware of such a phenomenon.  Jobs of Singaporeans are being snatched away by foreign workers in this manner.  Foreign workers are cheap to hire, especially those from India. As their wages are low, they become a favourite with employers. Some employers even send foreign workers for ITE courses so that after they obtain NTC3 certificates, employers would pay a lower foreign worker levy.  

Therefore, I do not understand why the Government does not control foreign worker numbers and allow local companies to hire foreign workers through employment agents so easily. Employers are very shrew nowadays. They used Singaporeans to help them apply for foreign workers. We had complained to MOM but the reply was that there was no way to restrict companies from hiring foreigners to replace locals.

On the one hand, the Government is urging Singaporeans to upgrade themselves and promoting continuous and lifelong learning. MOM, on the other hand, is still issuing work permits to foreign workers. Isn't this contradictory? Some people have suggested further lowering CPF contribution rates to help keep jobs.  If we do so, how could workers be able to afford a flat? How could we have adequate savings for retirement and medical needs? 

Instead of lowering employers' CPF contribution rate, why not increase foreign workers levy? Alternatively, we can stipulate that companies must have locals before they could apply to hire foreigners. Currently, MOM's regulations in the aspect do not seem to be very stringent.