Transient Workers Count Too

Bernard commented in my previous post – “Think global, act local.”

Conveniently, just as I was reading that, I received a message from a friend regarding the organization TWC2 – Transient Workers Count Too.

They look like a very positive organization. I’ve always been shocked at the terrible treatment that many overseas domestic workers get while in Singapore.

You can help immediately – they have started The Cuff Road Project to assist migrant workers in distress (basically by feeding them). The Straits Times ran an article about about the 50 Indian workers who are living on Cuff Road after being duped by agents that brought them to Singapore.

TWC2 is also campaigning for a weekly day off for migrant domestic helpers. To the overseas folks back home in the US (or perhaps to even people here in Singapore), this might sound silly at first glance but it’s actually something I’ve had a lot of discussion about.

I remember one of my colleagues hiring a domestic helper (for those back in US – domestic helper is like a maid but not only do they clean, they are tasked with all kinds of responsibilities such as cooking, grocery shopping, taking care of the children, etc.) and mentioned that in the contract the domestic helper has NO DAYS OFF for at least the first year of employment.

I asked why he didn’t just give her a day off of his own accord, but his “argument” (if you can really call it that) was that it was in the contract, so why would he do something different than what the contract has stipulated?

Imagine how tough that must be. Already in our relatively cushy jobs we quest for the weekend, complain about stress, grumble when we disagree with our boss, etc. Think about if you had to live at your workplace and from your waking hours until bedtime, you were always “on the job.” And then to never have a day off… no socializing with friends, no getting away for free time, almost no life.

I think I’ll look into TWC2.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Doesn’t the banner wording strike you as kind of odd? I get that it’s an expression of solidarity but doesn’t migrant status kind of defy the notion of “here”?

    Also – in the US we have another name for a “domestic helper” whose position is defined as taking care of domestic things around the home without any time off. It’s funny that your colleague fell back on “what’s in the contract is what’s right” – I’ve often considered it uniquely American to be so brazenly opportunistic and not bother making inconvenient ethical decisions in a context like this. To make your hypothetical even worse you could add “*and* imagine working for my jerk colleague who thinks you’re not so much a human being but rather a contract fulfillment.”


  2. Posted by Mils. on April 3, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Dear Howard,

    Thank you for your (un)intentional attempts in raising social awareness to the TWC2 campaign. And through reading your blog, I can finally become a Singaporean who is more aware of issues that take place back in her motherland.

    I think this is a really meaningful campaign and please include my share of support towards this worthy cause!

    Singaporean away from home.


  3. Posted by alan on April 6, 2008 at 9:13 am


    You are a good man. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and information about this issue


  4. Hi there,

    Thanks for your positive response to TWC2’s work. We are always on the look for passionate individuals such as yourself to help us out. Let us know if you’re keen to do volunteer work.



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