It's what they'd do back home

SINGAPORE - The two Chinese workers' protest on top of cranes on Thurusday looks like a cry of desperation, says Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics chief executive Bridget Tan.

"Why do you think they take this extreme action?" she asked.

She brought up previous salary-related disputes between employers and employees, suggesting a trend in Chinese workers actively taking steps to voice their grievances.

Last week, Chinese SMRT bus drivers went on strike over wages and living conditions. In August, Chinese Panasonic employees here took their protest online over wages and working conditions.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, who is in the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower, said Thursday's incident could be a "knock-on effect" from the strike last week.

"They may have become more daring from the strike and are seeking attention from the Government and the media," he said.

"But we don't know the full facts of the case yet. There could be a deeper root cause that we are unaware of."

Ms Tan said the incident could have happened because employers are neglecting the psychological and social needs of foreign workers, who are far away from home without their families in an unfamiliar environment.

"There should be counsellors, doctors and psychologists for the foreign workers to talk to," she added.

Mr John Gee, an executive committee member of migrants' organisation Transient Workers Count Too, agreed.

"It seems like a desperate action. In our experience, migrant workers bear a lot before they even try asking for help, let alone resort to actions like this," he said.

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