Foreign workers face employment permit renewal squeeze

About 70,000 mid-skilled foreign workers in Singapore, including Indians, are at risk of not having their employment passes renewed under a new policy which aims to create a level playing field for Singaporeans, a media report said today.

Only experienced foreign workers in managerial positions would likely be retained from July, when the policy starts with a minimum salary of 2,200 Singapore dollars per month condition.

The Manpower Ministry said the tougher requirements were meant to "level the playing field for locals" and encourage employers to hire"higher calibre" foreigners under the S Pass, the employment permit to work in Singapore in managerial position.

There were 142,400 S Pass holders as at the end of last year. The Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower chair, Zainudin Nordin, said the move was to make Singapore companies pay the true value of S Pass holders, and "to be fair to locals".

About 70,000 foreign workers are at risk of not having their S Passes renewed when they expire. Commenting on the move to The Straits Times, economist Salena Ling said the "wage shock" would be significant especially for industries where local replacements were hard to get.

Foreigners are employed in the construction sector as well as food and beverage industry. Singaporeans have been raising issues related to the increasing number of foreign workers and minimum salaries while the government has been countering it by pressing localcompanies to raise productivity through training and and reduced dependence on foreign workers.

The locals allege that foreigners take their jobs at lower salaries, according to diplomatic sources. A large number of mid-skill foreigners comes from Asia including India, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

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