Construction Sector seeks safe entry of foreign workers and additional relief

Construction Site

The Construction Industry Joint Committee (CIJC) issued a media release on 17 May 2021 regarding the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures and shortage of foreign workers. The construction industry has been plagued by a severe manpower crunch since the start of the pandemic last year, the problem has been exacerbated with the recent entry restrictions set by the Government on workers from South Asia.

The CIJC requested that the Government “adopt a balanced approach and work with industry to allow the recruitment and inflow of foreign workers.” The CIJC has also offered to “work with the relevant agencies and stakeholders to establish a viable end-to-end system to bring in migrant workers in a safe and controlled manner so as to enable work to continue”.   

The CIJC cited concerns that the current manpower crunch would result in further delays to construction projects, particularly essential public infrastructure projects such as hospitals. The CIJC also cited concerns for the loss of jobs, many of which are held by thousands of local Singaporeans.

The CIJC raised many other issues brought upon by the shortage of manpower. One of which was the issue of workplace safety and regarding this, the CIJC stated that “The complexity and nature of construction work necessitates the deployment of workers from various trades, and the current reduced workforce is already working at maximum capacity , increasing the risks of workplace incidents”.

The CIJC was also concerned by the reduced productivity due to safe distancing measures and potential further reduction in manpower as many foreign workers intend to return home upon the expiration of their work permits. It is estimated that each week, an average of 1,000 foreign workers return home. Some contractors have even resorted to poaching workers.

Key stakeholders in the CIJC comprise of the Association of Consulting Engineers Singapore, the Institution of Engineers Singapore, the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore, the Singapore Contractors Association Limited, the Singapore Green Building Council, the Singapore Institute of Architects, the Singapore Institute of Building Limited, the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers, and the Society of Project Managers Singapore.

Read “Singapore Construction Sector : The Future of its Workforce” on the recent parliamentary comments on automation and growing of a local construction worker pool.

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