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Migrant Workers' Centre aims for 2,000 buddies by end-2018

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More foreign workers will be appointed as volunteer grassroots leaders to help voice out problems their peers may be facing to the Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC).

The MWC Buddies Network, set up in 2013, has 700 "buddies" and 60 business members.

MWC aims to increase the number to 1,000 this year and to 2,000 by the end of next year.

MWC chairman Yeo Guat Kwang, who announced this yesterday, said the centre, started by the labour movement, hopes this move will increase its influence and connection with the migrant worker community.

He was speaking at the May Day Migrant Workers' Celebration, which caps the labour movement's month-long May Day festivities.

Besides surfacing workers' grievances to MWC, the network helps to disseminate information to workers, and give on-the-ground updates and feedback on unfair employment practices and potential incidents so the MWC can intervene early, before problems escalate.

Mr John Britto, 33, an Indian national who works as a driving supervisor, said: "I joined the network years ago as I like to help people. If the workers have salary or housing issues or other problems at work, I refer them to MWC."

Mr Yeo said: "With this network in place, we hope that in future, if there's any crisis or major event, this community link can help us assure the migrant workers that we're here to help."

About 10,000 migrant workers took part in yesterday's event at the Sungei Tengah Lodge in Choa Chu Kang, the newest and largest purpose-built migrant workers' dormitory in Singapore.

The event included carnival games and stage performances.

Volunteers and guests also distributed more than 150 "thank you" cards - made by primary and secondary school students - to the workers and served them dinner.

The MWC also thanked the event's guest of honour, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck, for championing the migrant workers' cause during his time at the ministry.

Mr Teo will step down from office on June 30 and return to the private sector at his request, but he will continue to serve as MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.