Students for Migrants

WHAT IS S4M? 

S4M stands for Students 4 Migrants, a project in PBG that relates directly to migrant workers. Our project is split into two sub-projects each focusing on a specific group of migrant workers; domestic helpers and construction workers. These migrant workers face a myriad of legal issues that can be complex in nature, and they often do not have the means or knowledge to solve these problems – from salary issues, to contractual issues, and even criminal issues.

WHO DO WE WORK WITH?

1. TWC2

(a) Internship 
Students are attached to TWC2 five days a week over a 5 to 6-week period (including at least one Sunday). Generally, working hours are from 12pm to 9pm.

The proposed scope of work is as follows: firstly, students will investigate the average duration workers who have suffered work injuries spend undergoing medical treatment and awaiting the outcome of injury compensation claims.

Secondly, students will work on improving the TWC2 database, assist in updating records, chart the progress of cases, and find out about common salary deductions and medical difficulties.

Thirdly, students will shadow TWC2’s case workers, assisting them in their work. This will also involve helping workers prepare for their labour court hearings. Students may also accompany workers to medical appointments on an ad hoc basis, asking the doctor questions relevant to the worker’s treatment and explaining them to the worker.

SFM4
From L-R: Charmaine, Ashley and Sanjana (Students during their internship at TWC2 interviewing migrant workers).

SFM1
From L-R: Mr Alex Au (TWC2) and Ms Celine Dermine (HOME)

2. HOME

(a) HOME Legal Clinics

At legal clinics, students will sit in with the lawyers and assist by taking notes for lawyers, conducting interviews with the migrant workers, and performing administrative duties such as filling up forms. Around 4 students are involved in each clinic. These legal clinics will provide much needed free legal advice to migrant workers who would not be able to afford it otherwise.

(b) HOME Research
Students conduct legal research, under HOME’s direction, on areas of the law relevant to transient migrant workers’ issues. Previous topics of research have included: background research for HOME’s submissions to MOM on Phase 2 of the Employment Law Reviews; the legality of repatriation companies; and research on how the International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Convention may affect Singapore’s legal scene and maritime workers.

(c) Law & You: HOME Legal Awareness Workshops  

Students help make relevant law accessible to foreign domestic workers, through legal education workshops. The purpose is to raise awareness of legal rights, liabilities and responsibilities, and of self-help remedies like alternative means of conflict resolution.

SFM2

The previous batch of presenters will be working alongside a new group of student presenters (8-10 students) with the aim of training them and, expanding and refining the current scope of the workshops. The purpose of this project is to reach out and make this course available to a wide and diverse audience. HOME is also exploring the possibility of students developing written course materials such as informative brochures, pamphlets etc that FDWs can refer to.

(d) HOME Chinese New Year Workshop

A continuation of last year’s pioneer workshop where students interact with construction workers, finding out about both their lifestyles and their problems.

(e) HOME Internship 
Students will take part in a proposed 6-week internship, working in various possible areas including: at the HOME Help Desk; legal clinic; research on trafficking in persons; accompanying workers to relevant meetings; and helping with the organization of a regional meeting on legal aid for migrant workers and victims of trafficking in ASEAN. There will be two cycles of internships involving two students each, and the internships will take place at HOME’s Waterloo Centre and Geylang offices during office hours from 10am to 6pm.

(f) HOME Helpdesk 
Students assist staff with client interviews on-site at the HOME Help Desk at Waterloo Centre (in the later part of 2014, this may shift to HOME’s new office in Geylang). Recently there have been a number of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) cases involving claims by Filipino domestic workers for employment agency fees.
Students may accompany clients to lodge claims at the Ministry of Manpower and to meetings with pro bono attorneys. Students help explain the process, translating between English and Mandarin, Bengali or Burmese, as well as serving as a friendly face and providing support. Common difficulties faced by construction, maritime and other non-domestic workers include: unpaid salary, work injury compensation, contract substitution, termination of employment, and more rarely, criminal defence cases. HOME is also looking into the possibility of hosting legal clinics when the Geylang office opens; it is possible students may in the future aid in the administration of these legal clinics.

3. FAST

Law & You: FAST Legal Awareness Workshops  

Like the HOME workshops, the FAST workshops will have a similar scope. The same principles and formats will apply, and the program will run in tandem with the HOME workshops

4. Justice Without Borders

(a) Fellowship at JWB

Fellows will be engaged in legal projects on behalf of victims of labour exploitation and human trafficking, covering Singapore and other countries in the region. As a Fellow, you will take on a leadership role in one or more specific projects that include identifying and preparing cases for potential litigation, strategic legal research to support future litigation, and coordinating with partners across the region on an ongoing project involving Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Hong Kong, among others. We are looking for students who are interested in our issue area, are self-motivated, can work in a team and are not afraid to take on new challenges outside their comfort zone. While experience with migrant worker issues is a plus, it is not a requirement.

5. HealthServe 

(a) Internship

Students are attached to HealthServe five days a week over a 3-4-week period. Students get to assist caseworkers in interviewing clients, and also lawyers in preparing cases for possible litigation. Students will also get the opportunity to accompany migrant workers to the Ministry of Manpower and clinics on a ad hoc basis. They help explain the process, translating between English and Mandarin, Bengali or Burmese, as well as serving as a friendly face and providing support. Students will also help to collate data and conduct legal research for papers and recommendations on improving the regulatory and legal environment to better protect the rights of the migrant workers.

(b) Introduction to the Construction Worker Workshop

Students will attend this workshop with the objective of getting closer to the construction workers, and to foster a friendship that will last beyond their involvement in the project.

6. Migrant Workers Centre (MWC)

MWC is a government funded migrant worker centre which tackles a diverse set of problems which plague migrant workers in Singapore. Project BOB in collaboration with MWC aims to conduct two workshops within the academic year. The focus of these workshops will be to educate the workers. These workshops will target the key problems which migrant workers face; namely salary matters and work injuries. The students will be tasked with presenting to the workers the various outlets which are available to the workers.

WHAT TO EXPECT? 

S4M members who are involved in our projects will get to interact directly with migrant workers through client interviews. They will also assist lawyers with preparing cases for litigation. Additionally, students can also help to collate data and conduct legal research to make recommendations on improving the legal and regulatory landscape, so as to ensure that the rights of our migrant workers are protected.

Time periods for each HOME project:

  • Regular meetings to prepare for the various workshops and legal clinics
  • Home Legal Clinics: Ad Hoc
  • HOME Research: Ad Hoc
  • HOME Legal Awareness Workshops: Workshops held monthly over a period of about 4 months (might change)
  • HOME Chinese New Year Workshop: once in February
  • HOME Internship: Internships are available during the Summer and December Holidays
  • FAST Legal Awareness Workshops: Workshops held monthly over a period of about 4 months (might change)
  • HOME Helpdesk: Ad Hoc
  • HealthServe Workshop: one session
  • MWC Workshop: two sessions
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