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  The PCM sector felt the sharp end of the pandemic. At the height in early 2020, dormitories were forced to lockdown when the transmission razed amongst the FWs’ community. Work came to a near standstill as only critical maintenance services were permitted.
It was an anxious time for all. Companies had to decide on the fly what to do next: How many workers should they decant from the dormitories to safer lodgings to ensure that work could continue? With bills continuing to pile up while income had slowed, what else could they possibly cut back to stay afloat?
There was also a lot of confusion as advisories from the MOM, EDB and Building & Construction Authority (BCA) were changing so frequently as officials tried to grapple with the fast-evolving situation.
“I think one of the key areas that affected us was actually foreign labour. In the PCM industry, we are very much dependent on foreign labour for our projects. For a long time, foreign labour could not come to Singapore because of the Covid measures and that significantly impacted us in terms of being able to execute our
projects normally. Of course, without sufficient labour resource, projects and the timeline of projects were severely impacted. This affected the contractors and also the end users and developers. We experienced significant increase in costs and timeline for completion,” said Rotary’s Mr Choo.
ASPRI rose to the challenge. “I think what we did during the Covid was good. Our Secretariat team was agile and able to very quickly organise to support members during this very challenging time. I remember so much information was coming in. The EDB and ESG were engaging us every day, sometimes multiple times a day. We had to manage these, and we were also running the dormitory,” said Mr Quek.
Keeping members informed
Headed by Executive Director Wayne Yap, the Secretariat team marshalled all available resources to keep members informed, whether it was new precautionary and containment measures or updates from the various government ministries and agencies.
The Association also organised webinars to tackle specific issues. On 1 June 2020, it had a webinar on “Safe Management Measures
for the Process Construction and Maintenance Industry” to deal with queries on work resumption after the Circuit Breaker, 7 April-1 June. And on 15 July, a second webinar was organised to explain the grants and support schemes that the government had extended to help PCM companies minimise the impact of Covid-19.
Making appeal for waiver extension on their Foreign Workers’ Levy (FWL)
ASPRI also helped members to appeal to the MOM for waiver extension on their FWLs, which accounted for a significant chunk of their operating cost.
MOM had earlier granted 100% FWL waiver and S$750 FWL rebate to the process and Marine & Offshore industries for the months of April to July as most of the workers were confined to their dormitories. Before the waiver lapsed in August, ASPRI together with the Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI) conducted an online survey to back their case. The survey found only 50% of their foreign workforce were expected to resume work after the first half of August and 75% only after the second half the month.
MOM responded positively to their request. Not only did it fully waive the levies due in August and September, it also reduced the FWL for the rest of the year, and offered some FWL levy rebate.
Addressing migrant workers’
mental health
Also of great concern to the Association was the declining mental health of migrant workers during the pandemic. With so many workers confined in their dormitories with little to occupy themselves, training was stepped up. As in-person classes were disallowed, ASPRI-IPI used the Internet to good effect by conducting e-training. The e-courses, some of

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