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Islam Rafiqul and Sujan Ahmed were downcast when they first approached TWC2 for help. But by the time they went back to Bangladesh, their faith in Singaporeans was fully restored, thanks to the Straits Times and Give.asia — a crowdfunding platform for people in need.
In Rafiqul’s case, he had won a Labour Court case, and his employer had been ordered to pay him $7,363, being his owed salary. But the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) offered no further help in obtaining his backpay beyond telling him to obtain a Writ of Seizure and Sale from the State Courts. Initiating such a process would cost him a thousand dollars or more, with no guarantee of success.
But when the employer did not meet the payment deadline last Thursday, the court’s hands were tied. Instead the worker was asked to go to the State Courts to take action to recover the sum, a step that would require him to fork out money he does not have.
The case highlights a little-known limitation of the Labour Court, and the dilemma workers face when employers refuse to comply with its orders.
— Straits Times, 19 January 2017, Labour Court can’t make employer pay
More details about MOM’s reaction and our response to that can be seen at this previous post.
Reading the story, Assem Thakur of Give.asia promptly set up a donation page, and within days, over $11,000 was raised. A few other well-wishers donated directly via TWC2 to benefit Rafiqul. Thank you very much!
Sujan Ahmed’s story was also in the press. In Sujan’s case, he had been awarded $11,625 in disability compensation after a back injury resulting from a fall at the worksite. The Labour Court reaffirmed this order, but the employer only gave him $2,480 and then refused to pay the balance.
Like in Rafiqul’s case, Sujan was stuck with no realistic means of getting what should be due to him.
The Straits Times carried his story on 23 January 2017; more here. Give.asia similarly opened a donation page for him. Rafiqul was among the first to help Sujan. Noting that the donations he received exceeded the amount he had been owed in backpay, he gave a portion to help Sujan. Rafiqul also gave a portion to TWC2 to help other workers in need.
In the end, Give.asia raised $7,754 for Sujan.
Both Rafiqul and Sujan had thought they would never get to see the money they were owed. Strictly speaking, they still hadn’t, for neither their employers honoured the Labour Court orders. It was people here in Singapore who, touched by their plight, gave generously to help them out.
Rafiqul also spoke with lawyers with the aim of pursuing his employer in court. Errant employers should not be let off the hook just because Singaporeans have been kind and forthcoming.
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