Jun 15, 2010
S'pore to ratify ILO Convention
By Lee Jia Xin
SINGAPORE will ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on Tripartite Consultation.
This announcement was made by Minister for Manpower Gan Kim Yong at the ILO in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
Convention 144 aims to establish national tripartite consultations in ILO member states to promote the implementation of international labour standards. It requires ratifying ILO members to undertake effective consultations on matters pertaining to ILO activities between representatives of the government, employers and workers.
With the ratification of Convention 144, Singapore has ratified seven ILO Core and Priority Conventions. One of the core conventions is the Forced Labour Convention (No. 29).
The International Labor Organisation, in C29 Forced Labour Convention, 1930, defines forced labour as follows:
1. For the purposes of this Convention the term forced or compulsory labour shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.
Let's break down this definition and apply it to what is happening to secondary, JC and polytechnic students during this Youth Olympic Games
1. Work or Service
Singaporean students have clearly been involved in various forms of work or service during the YOG, including ushering and flag-bearing. Consider "JC students being “signed up” to volunteer at YOG events after school hours"
One student will be posted to Jalan Besar stadium to serve as an usherer for the football matches held there from 4pm to 11pm daily for the next one week:
“It is ridiculous, our schedule is so tight already and we still have to go to provide free labor at YOG. Where got time to prepare for our term tests? I am going to bring my textbooks there and study,” he wrote in exasperation.
Another JC student was ”volunteered” to be a flag-bearer during the opening ceremony of the YOG this coming Saturday:
“You can’t imagine how many rehearsals we have to go through to prepare for the stupid event. The teachers are super on the ball as if their year end bonuses depend on how well they perform at the YOG.”
2. Menace of Penalty
Apparently, students have been told that if they do not participate, they will not be given a testimony upon graduation. Consider 'YOG volunteers complain about being served “dog food”'
Another student complained:
“I am from Temasek Poly and I am forced to take part in YOG. It is made so compulsory that in the event that i do not take part, I will not get a testimony at the end of my graduation. That is the most irritating thing right now.”
Consider also "Singapore students being forced to “volunteer” for YOG"
One Nanyang Polytechnic student Hanif revealed on the “I hate YOG” Facebook that they are being dangled with carrots and sticks to “support the YOG."
“Students in a Republic Polytechnic are required to volunteer for the YOG. Failure to do so will pull down their CE, which is crucial for them to graduate. So they can’t say no.
this sounds like a big menace of penalty to me.
3. Said person has not offered himself voluntarily
This is perhaps the biggest complaint amongst the Singaporean students involved in the YOG. Consider "Secondary Two student on YOG: Communist much?"
I received a letter from my school informing me that, as a secondary two student, I was required to welcome the YOG flame with the school by the cheering it on as it ran past Woodlands Mart.
I groaned as the teacher emphasized on the word ‘mandatory’, and when she stated that if I were to absent myself with no appropriate reason, I would be sent to detentio[n].
The day after, via an online forum, I learnt that not only in my school, but students from other secondary schools around Singapore were forced to cheer on the YOG flame at certain designated points.
If this students' claims are true, then clearly students are being involuntarily manipulated into participating in the YOG, without being paid a single cent for their efforts.
Violation of the ILO Convention??
The feedback, complaints and anecdotal evidence emerging on the internet, describing the manner in which the PAP government is co-opting students to "support" and to provide free labor for the YOG, seem to conform perfectly to the ILO's definition of Forced Labour.
Yet, the very convention that Singapore has ratified, states
1. Each Member of the International Labour Organisation which ratifies this Convention undertakes to suppress the use of forced or compulsory labour in all its forms within the shortest possible period.
So tell me, in its involvement of Secondary, JC and Poly students in the organisation of the YOG, is Singapore abusing its education system to engage in the systematic violation of human rights via Forced Labour, and in the process also violating the very ILO convention it just committed to ratify a month ago?