From overcharging to plain flouting of the law — Ratan’s story

By Katia Barthelemy, based on an interview in August 2018 Each migrant worker’s story is unique. Yet, in all the stories we hear at TWC2, we can detect injustice, lack of respect, abuse, illegal treatment or a combination of them. Miah Mohammad Ratan, like most migrant workers in Singapore, started his journey out of Bangladesh...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, part 5

Part 5: the Section 6A requirement The long name for this rule is “Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012, Fourth Schedule, Part IV, Section 6A”. The clause in the subsidiary legislation says: 6A. (1)  The employer shall not — (a) Reduce the foreign employee’s basic monthly salary or fixed monthly allowances to an amount less...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, part 4

Part 4: MOM begins at last to respond to changing circumstances In Part 2 of this series, we described how workers with salary claims often pointed to the stated salaries in their In-Princple Approvals for Work permits (“IPA”) [footnote 1] as the basis for their claims. However, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) itself took the...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, part 3

Part 3: Getting around IPAs in salary disputes Part 2 of this series described the uneven way in which the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) officers and the ministry’s Labour Court [footnote 1] handled salary claims. Sometimes, the In-Principle Approval letter (“IPA”) [footnote 2] was admitted as the basis for adjudicating claims. When that happened, employers...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, part 2

Part 2: Salary terms Very few of the migrant workers from India and Bangladesh working in non-domestic sectors have written employment contracts. Contracts are more common with workers from China, but typically these contracts are signed in their home country between the agent and the worker. TWC2 noticed that Ministry of Manpower (MOM) officers often...

In-Principle Approval: uses and abuses 2011 – 2018, part 1

Introduction This five-part series of articles throws a spotlight on the In-Principle Approval for a Work Permit (“IPA”), a key document in the import of foreign labour into Singapore. Behind the document is a process that, over time, has shown several weaknesses. What began as a document and process to better assure migrant workers that...

Some days the skies are clear and problems float away

“Migrant workers volunteer to clean Pasir Ris beach on Saturday” said the headline in the Straits Times, 17 October 2018. Indeed, that’s what a large group of TWC2 clients did, led by Irene Ong and Marcel Bandur, joint leaders of our Discover Singapore team. This team organises activities for the workers under our care every...

To encash two cheques, Raju had to jump through hoops

For a long, long time, TWC2 has been calling for electronic payment of salaries to be made mandatory. Giving employers the option to pay in cash allows all sorts of abuses to happen and seriously disadvantages workers when salary is not paid or only partially paid. Workers are left with no evidence as to how...

Protected: Baseline report for Singapore’s signing of Global Compact on Migration

On 10 December 2018, Singapore is expected to join nearly all other member States of the United Nations in adopting the the Global Compact on Migration (GCM). Transient Workers Count Too applauds Singapore’s decision to sign the agreement. We believe that it signifies our country’s commitment to international cooperation, transparent regulation of migration, and both...

Does MOM pay work injury lawyers?

By Debbie Fordyce Does the Ministry of Manpower pay lawyers to handle work injury compensation claims? “Lawyers always exciting to take case.” At least some injured workers certainly think that MOM does. They say that they’ve heard that MOM pays lawyers $300 a month to file and manage work injury compensation (WIC) claims. Newly injured...