No Place to Work

The Risks and Realities of Migrant Labour in Singapore

by Mick Yang, Heleena Panicker & Nabilah Said

Singapore is built on the backs of foreign workers. Today, there are about 1.4 million Work Permit holders. They often bear harsh treatment and the lowest wages, existing within a system with an inherent power imbalance. 


There is a pattern to these workplace incidents
Why current policies aren’t enough
The claims process isn’t perfect
The work dangers are preventable
“Every worker deserves to work in a safe and protected environment, and every worker should have the right to return home safely”—Melvin Yong, the Assistant Secretary General at NTUC
Changing perceptions
Law and policy changes
Shifting the balance of power
More coordinated and holistic responses to incidents
“Often, the question you hear being asked to the contractor is ‘When can you finish?’, rather than ‘What are the steps that you have taken to ensure this is done safely?’ [...] This can translate to managers pressuring supervisors, supervisors rushing workers, and workers themselves not taking safety seriously, so as to expedite the work." —Yong Jiang Rong, Chairman of the Singapore Contractors’ Association workplace safety subcommittee
More imaginative solutions earlier in the pipeline
Where do we go from here?
Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at
Additional reporting / Heleena Panicker, Leong Man Wei, Nabilah Said
Data analysis and visualisations / Mick Yang, Munirah Mansoor
Editing / Nabilah Said, Gwyneth Cheng, Loh Pei Ying
Illustrations / Munirah Mansoor
Research / Heleena Panicker, Leong Man Wei
Writer / Mick Yang
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