OPINION: A year since the transient worker Covid crisis: Lessons for Southeast Asia
April marked the one-year anniversary since most countries in the world went into some form of lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The pandemic first and foremost has exposed gaps in current labour practices towards low-skilled transient (migrant) workers across Southeast Asia, particularly in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. These three countries are key destinations in Southeast Asia, with 91% of the region’s 6.5 million transient workers concentrated in these countries.
While ASEAN has a consensus enacted in 2017 which seeks to protect the rights of transient workers, it does not carry any legal weight, and thus arguably does little for those in the region.
Despite their longstanding contribution to the economic development of the region, transient workers, especially those in construction and manufacturing sectors, often suffer from inadequate access to healthcare and accommodation resources – causes that eventually contributed to Covid-19 outbreak among this community.
FANZURA BANU AND SHEE SIEW YING