Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) will soon have a new hangout on their rest days. The Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST), a non-profit organisation, intends to open a second clubhouse to ramp up activities and provide extra support services to FDWs.
FAST president Seah Seng Choon announced this at the 5th Foreign Domestic Workers Day on Sunday (Nov 30). The new facility will offer the same services as the first clubhouse at Raeburn Park, near the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.
FAST, a charity which aims to promote skills training for FDWs, said it could not confirm the location of the new clubhouse as yet. But it hopes to open the facility in the last quarter of 2015. It will have a shelter for distressed workers.
Mr Seah said: “For our shelter, we would like to provide activities. Besides just a home, we want to make sure that they are occupied with meaningful activities, like training, like going for developmental kind of activities to enrich their experience in the home as well. So, while recuperating from their issues they have, we don’t want them to sit there, and do nothing.”
In 2013, the Manpower Ministry introduced the mandatory weekly day off for newly recruited foreign domestic workers and those renewing their work permits. Under the arrangement, employers and workers can work out compensation in lieu of a day off. On January 1 next year, this will cover all foreign domestic workers. These workers will need a place to go to during their rest days, thus the idea for the new clubhouse.
Some 5,000 foreign domestic workers congregated at the Grandstand Turf City on Sunday to celebrate the special day dedicated to them. Many were given a day off by their employers to attend the event.
The event also saw outstanding workers and employers being recognised, with Filipina Chona Bandejas winning the FDW of the Year award. The 47-year-old was hailed as a devoted caregiver for her employer of 22 years. “I’ve been working with them, they never scold me, and they never argue with each other. Our relationship is really like a family, and I’m very happy to work for them,” said Chona.
Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor, who was the guest of honour at the event, urged employers to understand and adapt to the needs of FDWs. This is to ensure their well being.
As for FDWs, Dr Khor said they have a responsibility to highlight early on to employers any concerns they might have. Ultimately, open communication based on mutual respect and accommodation is the best guarantee of a successful working relationship, she added.