More of here, less of there: increase in repeat workers and fat profits for the underground job broker in Singapore

The recruitment landscape for non-domestic Work Permit holders has changed dramatically in just a few short years. About 80% of these workers are ‘repeat workers’ i.e. they have had a job here before their current ones. This is a big change from only four years ago when we found a slight majority on their first...

Paper laws and how workers’ wages are stolen

Proving a salary claim requires evidence. So we ask our interviewees whether they were paid in cash or through their bank accounts. Bank transfers create an audit trail that will prove how much employers paid (or didn’t pay), whereas cash leaves no trail at all and thus disadvantages the worker in his claim. Ripon was...

Transfer was a sham, settlement agreement was dubious, only the paddyfield was real

By Yasha S based on an interview in January 2019 For 47-year old labourer Motaleb Abdul, seeking justice for what he is owed seems like a never-ending game of disappointment. Despite having a salary settlement agreement drawn by Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM), he has yet to be paid by his Singaporean boss —...

Ask the insurance company

Most injured workers who seek help from TWC2 have engaged a law firm to assist with their injury claim.  Although legal assistance is not necessary for the no-fault work injury compensation (WIC) process at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), many workers feel more secure having an injury lawyer.  Perhaps the worker is unsure how to...

Foreign construction workers continue to reduce, no improvement in productivity

The number of Work Permit holders in the construction industry has gradually declined since a peak in 2015. Last December (2018), there were 280,500 Work Permit holders in this sector, fourteen percent below the 2015 figure of 326,000. To a large degree, the fall in the number of foreign construction workers mirrors the contraction of...

Employer unafraid of workers taking salary claims to the authorities

By L. Narasimhan based on an interview in March 2019 “I wander around the city, going from place to place trying to find a new job,” says Sukhwinder Singh, when I ask him what he has been doing for the past three months. “I wake up in my apartment, eat at Gurudwara [temple], and then go...

Rubel started work with Feiteng1x without knowing his salary — how did that happen?

By Liang lei based on an interview in February 2019 When a foreign worker arrives in Singapore, he would have a letter titled In-Principle Approval for a Work Permit (IPA) from Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM), stating his personal details, employer and salary, amongst other details. The IPA letter has proven invaluable in guarding foreign...

Having signed and thumbprinted his salary payment vouchers, Senthilkumar faced an uphill task proving his claim

Senthilkumar’s salary claim didn’t end well for him. It went all the way to the Employment Claims Tribunal which found against him on 1 March 2019. In a nutshell, his claim was that the payment vouchers he was asked to sign (and add his thumbprint to) had amounts that didn’t match the cash in the...

Seven months, thirteen extensions, no progress

By Avijit B, based on an interview in March 2019 Gafur has had a turbulent time since the day he arrived in Singapore. In the space of seven months, he went from the hope of steady work abroad to the frustration of being stuck without work and pay. Borrowing money from relatives to pay for...

27% fewer foreign worker claims at ECT in 2018 compared to 2017, why?

On 6 March 2019, Nominated Member of Parliament Anthea Ong asked the Minister of Manpower to supply figures for 2017 and 2018 respectively regarding … (a) how many salary claims were filed by (i) local employees and (ii) foreign workers at the Employment Claims Tribunal; (b) how many court orders were issued to errant employers...