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First of all, I would like to explain what is Bak Kwa for some who are not familiar with Singapore. Bak Kwa is a kind of barbecue meat jerky that is usually made of pork or chicken. During Chinese New Year, it is considered a must-buy food for the celebration mostly for Chinese. But in Singapore, no matter what race or religion you are, most of the Singaporeans like it. (This links back to the early days when the Chinese are poor, having meat is considered a luxury item and hence only consumed during the festive season).
Before Chinese New Year season, queuing for Bak Kwa from a famous Bak Kwa outlet (like Lim Chee Guan) is norm and time-consuming process. Besides queuing hours for fresh grilled Bak Kwa, you have to withstand either the hot or rainy days. So came this idea of employers paying their foreign workers to queue early in the morning instead of queuing themselves.
Wrong to Ask Foreign Workers to Run Non-work Related Errands
Foreign workers might be happy to queue for their employers instead of working under the sun, but Singapore’s Migrant Worker Rights Group and Ministry of Manpower have different views of such actions.
Deployment of these foreign workers for an activity other than stated in their work permit is against the law as these tasks are not officially permitted. While the conservative view is will these foreign workers be precluded from employment protections of accident happened during the course of action?
Opinions might be different for everyone, some might think this is over reacting, while some may oppose as it might not be really a good choice to do so. However, thinking back, if local Singaporeans employees are asked to queue for the Bak Kwa, is that also a wrong deployment in the employment scope of work? I will leave you to ponder on this question.
By the way, the employers are not fined for asking these foreign workers to queue for the Bak Kwa.