Who ends up paying for better dorm standards for workers?

Singapore’s Covid-19 cases are mainly found in workers’ dormitories. The standards of these dormitories leave much to be desired. These workers live in close proximity to each other, thereby promoting the spread of covid-19 easily.

Everyone agreed that the standards of these dormitories should be raised. Some even felt that it was the government’s responsibility to fix the problem. But they did not realise attempting to do so may hurt the workers because of the simple economics of demand/supply and bargaining power.

Raising the dorm standards means raising housing costs for these workers. If the employers cannot charge this to consumers, they will have to find some other ways to fund these cost increases. Most of the time, it means finding an alternative source for even lower cost workers. Then we end up with the debate of minimum wage.

This article below lays out the chain of effect very clearly. The lesson here – don’t be too quick to blame when you see an issue. There’s probably a good reason why things are what they are. If you have a better solution, raise it so that all can benefit from it.

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