This article was featured in the Business Times (Singapore) newspaper on 11 October 2011. The story was also featured by Channel NewsAsia.
By Yeo Aiqi
Employers, union leaders and economics experts met on Monday at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) to discuss Singapore''s foreign labour policy.
''...Having agreed that foreign labour is important for Singapore, it is now about understanding how it can be managed to ensure the needs of resident Singaporeans are not neglected, while making certain that foreign workers are not exploited either,'' said professor Simon Tay, chairman of the SIIA.
Singapore''s dependence on foreign labour is currently the highest amongst East Asian economies due to both the short-term needs of the business cycle as well as long-term needs of economic growth and restructuring.
Increased foreign labour in Singapore, however, has resulted in growing discontent amongst the resident labour force, which has voiced its concern over the large volume of foreign workers, as well as the overcrowding of transport and housing services.
''The government has promised to emphasise productivity growth rather than labour supply and to limit the foreign labour supply at one third of the total labour force,'' Dr Chia Siow Yue, senior researcher at SIIA said.
The parties also discussed ways in which labour productivity can be increased so that foreign labour dependency, as well as resident and non-resident workforce relations can be improved.