Kader snared by the barbs of bureaucratic absurdities

By Darren Tan, based on an interview in August 2018 By July 2018, Munshi Kader was reaching the end of his temporary job with a chemical factory in the Pioneer district of Singapore. He had worked two six-month stints at this factory, and the boss liked him enough to want to retain him permanently. “MOM...

Short of information, Forhad worries while Mondal thinks everything’s going fine

By Ng Zu Xiang, based on interviews in July 2018 Workplace injuries are not an uncommon occurrence in construction, especially with the number of projects burgeoning across Singapore. As such, the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) is crucial and it has been used in regularly, but not all cases transpire the same way. Here are...

Policy brief 2018, no. 4: Free up labour mobility, do more to retain skills and experience

In the fourth of our policy briefs for 2018, Transient Workers Count Too recommends that foreign workers should be free to change employer without needing to get the permission of the existing employer. There should also be a clearer time frame for workers to get new jobs should their existing employers terminate their Work Permits...

Robin’s story shows how corruption takes root in Singapore

By Joell Tee, based on an interview in July 2018 The fan whirs quietly overhead and the workers file in in an orderly manner to collect their tokens for dinner. Scattered laughter and chatter make for a warm and homely atmosphere. It is my second time at TWC2’s DaySpace and yet I do not feel...

Arrivals and change in vocation of Bangladeshi workers

After 2015, new arrivals of first-time Bangladeshi workers appear to have fallen off quite dramatically — this was the main finding of a study done in August and September 2018. Interviews were conducted with 106 Bangladeshi workers and each was asked the year of his first arrival in Singapore. We found unusually few who first...

Black and white: How do workers know the importance of the IPA?

By Nicholas Lee, based on interviews in July 2018 Today’s article takes a little step back to explore how variances in culture and social experience affect the way foreign workers understand and handle paper documentation, processes and rules in Singapore. As locals know all too well, Singapore is famous for its strict adherence to “Black...

Lack of functioning transfer market makes skills retention elusive

By Alston Ng, based on interviews in June 2018 About a month ago when Rifat (not his real name) showed up at TWC2, he was evidently distressed by the prospect of repatriation. Having resolved a salary dispute with his former employer, Rifat was left to his own devices as he embarked on a so-far unsuccessful...

Toes are cheap

Polash is well-dressed and carries himself with self-assurance. He’s been a responsible son for ten years, working in Singapore supporting his parents, brother and sister in Bangladesh. But now he’s in limbo, waiting for his injury compensation claim to conclude. Your writer looks at him more closely, but cannot tell where he’s been injured. “Three...

Government made Rony stay in Singapore, his marriage destroyed

In the second half of 2017, Sikdar Rony lodged two complaints with the Ministry of Manpower. One was over unpaid salary and the other was about having been made to pay a kickback in order to get a job transfer. His unpaid salary case eventually went against him. His evidence was rather incomplete and he...

Hired as scaffolder, safety-trained as painter, made to work as grinder

By Koh Jie Min, based on an interview in June 2018 Balal comes across as soft spoken when I meet him for this interview. He gives me a wry smile as he points to two long, white scars on his fingers, and recounts his tale. It’s a not unheard-of story: Leaving his wife and two...