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By Tristan Powell-Odden, based on an interview in December 2017
Hasan Tamim has been seven months without work as a result of an accident. Not only was he not fully paid his salary before the incident, he has not received proper financial support from his employer since — despite the law requiring the employer to provide such support.
Instead, he’s had to ask his father to send money over from Bangladesh, money that once came from him, remitted when times were better: Money previously meant to send his brother and sister to school, as well as pay for his father’s medicine. But now, all of those things are at risk. He cares quite a lot about his family at home, and gets emotional when discussing his father specifically: “My heart now many pains.”
Hasan’s gentle and earnest demeanor first strikes you through his soft brown eyes and then from his genial voice as he speaks about his experience as a migrant worker in Singapore and his Papa and family back home in Bangladesh. Even when he speaks of his recent injury and the injustice he is currently experiencing as a result, the gentleness remains.
On 2 June 2017, Hasan, while working at a shipyard, sustained a serious injury on his right hand when a large metal rod fell on it. Beyond causing great pain at the time, the injury has seriously limited mobility in his hand — a consequence that continues to this day thus preventing his return to work.
More urgently, he should be getting medical leave wages for the five months and fifteen days of medical leave he has accumulated. According to the Work Injury Compensation Act, this should be paid monthly, but he says he is still waiting for his employer to pay up.
Hasan worked long and hard hours doing his job along with dozens of others, beginning at 6 o’clock in the morning, and often ending at eleven at night. He made enough money to be able to support his family and keep his own head above water. But now, as the supposed breadwinner of a family of five, this turn of events presents a large problem for all of them. To top it all, there is the irony of him having to ask his father to send back the money he had remitted earlier. Hasan needs it to cover rent and basic necessities.
Luckily, he is getting free meals from TWC2.
Hasan worked for the same company for all the five years he has been in Singapore. From his farming background in Bangladesh, he quickly learned the trade of shipbuilding and repair. The first three years of this stay here were quite beneficial to both him and his family. He got his salary at regular monthly intervals, and he was perfectly healthy. Then, he tells me, a new boss took charge of the company about two and a half years ago, and things started to deteriorate for the the workers. His salary wasn’t being paid on time; only once every couple of months. And then of course, his injury occurred.
To compound the issue, the company closed for business two months after that. Even if Hasan recovers well enough to return to work, he has no way of getting his old job back.
The 29-year-old has been making efforts to remind his boss what’s due. The most recent installment of his story came last week, when he again called his boss and asked about wages. His boss’ response: “I am not in Singapore.” And Hasan, being the gentle and quiet person that he is, took that for an answer, not pressing the issue further. Hasan says he will attempt to call his boss again next week. Hopefully, that will reap better results than before.
Hasan once dreamed about supporting his family through working in Singapore. He now dreams of returning home to Bangladesh. Hopefully he will recover, get all the wages and compensation that’s due to him, and be home soon.
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