Rafa and the line between white and black

By Isaac Ong, based on an interview in November 2017 “This is my wrong but I don’t want pay [you] money. Even if I go jail, [even if] I no company, but I still don’t want pay money”, Rafa (not his real name) was told by his boss. 49-year-old Rafa is practically a veteran of...

Paying over $3,000 in recruitment cost for a $477-per-month job? That’s the way it is

By Aaron Chua, based on an interview in November 2017 “Hello,” says Bhimol* to TWC2 volunteer Alex Au, just as Alex is arriving at The Cuff Road Project’s meal station. “I come back,” adds Bhimol. “Huh? Come back from where?” asks Alex. “[Last] Friday, I come back. New job.” “Ah,” says Alex, but before he...

No hook for safety harness. Go up anyway, orders supervisor

By Jiang Zhi Feng, based on an interview in November 2017 “Fall down how?” a concerned Miah asked his company’s supervisor about precariousness of mending a pipe two metres above ground without a safety hook. His supervisor replied, “Nothing one. No problem. Can do,” directing him to carry out orders. On 22 September 2017, Miah...

Singapore laws take care of our foreign workers, or do they?

By Tan Yen Seow, based on an interview in November 2017 Islam Saiful, 32, is my first interviewee at TWC2. He is a Bangladeshi national who has been working in Singapore on a Work Permit for the past ten years. Judging from his jovial demeanour, one will not be able to guess his plight. Saiful...

The friendly man in the coffee shop

By Troy Lee, based on two interviews in October 2017 Shamim paints a picture of how he got his latest job. In the second half of 2016, while he was happily in his previous job, “I meet his man, Basir, at a coffee shop Mustafa near.” Mustafa is a well-known departmental store in the Little...

Experienced plumber lost, who cares about productivity?

FOREWORD: For years, Transient Workers Count Too has been speaking out against the revolving door practices behind Singapore’s foreign labour. At the slightest unhappiness, employers are quick to send workers home and recruit fresh new faces. Why do they do this? Because they can. Singapore law gives employers total discretion when to terminate employees, there’s...

At TWC2, we ask injured workers about their salary. Why?

  By Liang Lei, based on an interview in October 2017 Running into unexpected trouble overseas is often inconvenient and frustrating – even seasoned travellers among us would readily testify to this. Language barriers, differences in culture and unfamiliarity with foreign administration often confuse us and increase the chances of making mistakes. It must be...

Despite injury, despite longing for home, a need to stay and work abroad

By Jiang Zhi Feng, based on an interview in October 2017 For ten years as a Bangladeshi migrant worker in Singapore, Hossain Awlad has only been back home three times. He misses home. He misses his wife, his mother, and his relatives. The last time he saw them was in 2013. He calls his wife...

Greedy, unlicenced job brokers: one down, many more to go

In a promising development, the Ministry of Manpower has successfully prosecuted a Bangladeshi worker who acted as a job broker and who had pocketed some $30,900 in illicit profit. Roy Tapon Kumar pleaded guilty and was fined $30,000. This was reported in a Channel NewsAsia story (Link) and on  the Ministry of Manpower’s (“MOM”) website....

Injury compensation case goes well, then all fouled up by lawyer and lover

By Janson Chang, based on an interview in September 2017 Remo (not his real name) is one man among many as he sidles forward in the queue to have his meal card stamped.  He doesn’t say much, and is about to head off after receiving the stamp – till a closer look at his Special...