Digging Deep Into Lorry Question

Ferrying workers on lorries is an attractive option for employers for an obvious reason. Since lorries are needed for transportation of large goods anyway, there is no additional cost to incur when transferring workers to worksite aside from fuel. Moreover, the back of a lorry can carry a lot of people. However, a lorry is designed to move things and not people. As such, there is little safety mechanism available in such a vehicle. For this reason, there have been multiple accidents that led to injuries and deaths of migrant workers transported in this way. Catholic social teachings are unambiguous on this issue. Work is for the development and fulfilment of the worker and not the other way around. A practice that risks a worker’s life violates the dignity of the worker.

See what the Church has taught about the meaning of work in Dignity & Spirituality of Work.

Dig Deeper

Ceasing the practice for safety reasons might seem straightforward. For small businesses, doing so might be simple. However, it is a different story for companies who employ a large number of migrant workers for work such as construction. This is why the concern raised by the government and business groups revolves around cost. For many people, however, weighing between risk to human life and cost is outrageous. However, the cost issue is not a simple matter of balancing risk to human life against profit. If there are indeed significant costs, companies operating in sectors with thin profit margin such as construction might pass the cost to customers or decide to quit an unsustainable business. Either way, this would drive up cost on critical projects such as housing and this could be detrimental for low-income and middle-income families at a time when cost of living is already quite high.

See what the Church has taught about profit in Economics for All.


Dig Even Deeper

Furthermore, it seems that the lorry debate is just part of a wider issue. While we can rightly be proud at the high rate of housing ownership in Singapore compared to other countries and our efficient transportation system, it does look like all these are possible because our society has been depending on low-income migrants working in low-cost environments. Could we have achieved these accomplishments otherwise?

See what the Church has taught about a society where all can achieve fulfilment more easily in The Goal of the Common Good.