Collaboration to safeguard migrant worker rights in Singapore during COVID-19

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented socioeconomic impacts on a global scale. While these impacts have been experienced by everyone in varying degrees of severity, one of the groups most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 in Neste’s value chain are the migrant workers employed by our contractors at the Neste Singapore Expansion Project. 

In Singapore, the majority of the COVID-19 cases have occurred in migrant worker dormitories, where the virus spread quickly due to communal living arrangements. As of 13 December 2020, the number of migrant workers who had tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak amounted to 54,5051, representing 93% of total cases in Singapore at the time.

As part of Neste’s ongoing efforts to adapt to COVID-19 and safeguard the rights of migrant workers on our sites, we proactively collaborated with the Singapore Government and our main contractor Technip Energies to gain access to one of the Singapore Government’s newly-built Quick Build Dormitories (QBD), which have a reduced occupancy density and improved living standards. We successfully reserved 1000 beds for our contractors to use, and the first batch of migrant workers moved into the newly inaugurated QBD in December 2020.


Image: Standard dormitories (left) consist of multiple-storey blocks, with communal bathrooms and up to 20 people sharing bunk beds. The new Quick Build Dormitories (right) have improved living conditions and lower room occupancy with only 5 single beds and ensuite bathrooms (up to 1:5 PAX).

In addition to our efforts to secure improved housing for the migrant workers employed by our contractors, throughout 2020 we took a number of steps to protect workers onsite at the Neste Singapore Expansion Project in response to COVID-19. This includes multiple new safety measures which were put in place to ensure safe and hygienic conditions onsite with adequate social distancing, and a Worker Wellbeing Survey carried out during June-July 2020 to gain a deeper understanding of how COVID-19 and associated local restrictions are impacting migrant workers. 

Safety signs and safety practices

Image: COVID-19 safety measures promoted in multiple languages on site to ensure accessibility for migrant workers of different nationalities. 

We have also continued to make it a priority to ensure that the workforce on the construction site have the right to be heard and to raise any concerns they may have directly to Neste, via our site-level grievance mechanism.

Moving forward into 2021, we will continue working closely with our business partners to move more workers into the QBD, ensure compliance with any new government requirements for COVID-19, and safeguard the rights of workers on our sites.

To read more about how we are advancing positive human rights practices at the Neste Singapore Expansion Project, please visit here.  

1 Published at Ministry of Manpower’s official website on 14 December 2020.