SINGAPORE: A story about migrant workers choosing to sleep outdoors instead of in their dormitories has sparked concern among netizens, who’ve raised questions about the conditions where the workers live.

On Monday (June 10), a Straits Times report featured migrant workers who choose to eat, consume alcohol, and even sleep outside, sometimes even on the road itself, despite possible risks. One worker that ST spoke to said that in comparison to the dorms, it was cooler, quieter, and less crowded outdoors.

The report said that motorists have been raising the issue due to the workers becoming road safety hazards.

When the ST piece was shared on Reddit, commenters brought up the long-standing issue of workers’ dorms, which received a lot of attention at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, when infections spread quickly due to the cramped, and sometimes unhygienic, conditions.

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One Reddit user said that conditions in the dormitories must be pretty terrible for workers to prefer to spend their downtime outdoors.

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Another shone a light on factory-converted dorms, underlining how unhygienic they are due to the rats and cockroaches that can often be found.

When one Reddit user said that dormitories can’t be that bad, since they are used during national service, another answered by saying that workers’ dorms are often too small for the number of people they house, with thin and dirty mattresses to sleep on. A commenter chimed in that at least with military service, one is allowed to go home on weekends, which is not an option for migrant workers.

Others, however, argued that the issue at hand is beyond the dormitories, as the ST piece concentrated on workers on the road who pose a danger to motorists, particularly those who drink and need to sleep it off.

But some commenters answered back, saying that the lack of a “proper living environment” is at the heart of the issue.

A Reddit user opined that the situation is a reflection of the treatment of migrant workers in Singapore, which they called “a longstanding elephant in the room.”

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“How long until we admit taking advantage of currency and foreign labour in underdeveloped countries is not that far off from indentured servitude?” they added.

Another agreed, saying that more should be done to take care of their basic needs, safety, and comfort. /TISG

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