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By Saw Suhui
Rana Masud met with an accident on the 19 May 2015. His left thumb was cut off and the hospital was not able to reattach it. They tried the first time, but in Rana’s words, it was “many problem, sensitive”, and was amputated on 15 February this year.
“Thumb now no good already, give MC” Rana described of his first visit to the hospital, when they reattached his thumb. MC stands for medical leave certificate.
The medical leave was for four months, during which time, his thumb continued to be in pain and, and later, discomfort. Rana says he was unable to work even after the first MC expired. From what I gather, Rana was certified for light duty after that.
Few bosses would be happy to have an injured, non-productive worker, however, or maybe the company didn’t have any kind of job that could be classified as light duty. Rana says he was asked to do all sorts of things. “Boss give everything job, but I cannot. Boss unhappy.”
Apparently at one point during his light duty period, his boss wanted to cancel treatment for Rana. He recalls, “light duty, boss push me [by saying] you talk doctor ‘I OK already.’” His employer wanted Rana to tell the doctor that he was fully recovered, even when he was clearly not, as evidenced by the subsequent need for a second operation.
“Office Chinese lady sent go hospital [to tell the hospital to] cancel. Doctor no cancel. Doctor say, ‘No, cannot.’ ”
Fortunately, the doctor attending to Rana did not cave in to the demands of the company.
Then there were money issues. Under the law, employers are required to pay an injured worker what is known as ‘medical leave wages’ while he is on MC. Rana’s boss did not do that promptly, he tells me.
On TWC2’s advice, Rana then “complain MOM,” and then only “boss give MC money”.
Even then, Rana was unsure he was paid the right amount. He has no idea how the medical leave wages were calculated. “Calculations I also don’t know”, he says, “boss don’t give receipt. Give one paper, I sign, take money.”
Without a copy of an itemised voucher, nobody but the company can know whether the paid amount was right or not.
Rana’s story is quite typical. Often, after workplace accidents, injured workers face a whole host of problems: access to continued treatment, appropriate light duties, lack of money, and the way their employers treat them in general.
One thing that does not change is that the worker’s family back home continues to depend on him for financial support. But injured workers like Rana cannot help. There is no money to remit back home. “After injury also $1 not send back,” Rana says, looking at his bandaged hand. He is a married man with a wife and parents to support.
In fact, Rana, who depends on meals provided by TWC2’s Cuff Road Project, adds, “MC money also not enough for myself.”
TWC2 is an organization that is dedicated to assisting low-wage migrant workers when they are in difficulty. We are motivated by a sense of fairness and humanity, though our caseload often exceeds our