Debt, jail and “no future”: an overstayer’s story

By Darrell Foo, based on an interview in November 2018 At TWC2’s Cuff Road Project where free meals are distributed to destitute foreign workers, almost all the men’s “makan cards” (meal eligibility cards issued by TWC2) state “injury” or “not paid salary” as their problems. My guess is that 99% of them have one of...

Eight men surround Raju at a coffeeshop

We first featured Raju in the story To encash two cheques, Raju had to jump through hoops, which was about his last three days before going home. Prior to that, he was having difficulty getting due settlement of his injury compensation claim and this story below is about an incident during that period. — By...

Salary non-payment was first sign, then all workers lost their jobs

By Mohamed Kasshif, based on an interview in September 2018 “Boss say, don’t worry, still can work”; Zobayar explains the reply he got from his employer upon realising that his work permit had been revoked without notice. It’s been two months since he last received his salary and now he lost his work permit, making...

Here’s Shakil, who has worked in both Dubai and Singapore

In Singapore, we rarely see workers who have worked in the Middle East before coming here. Why that is so probably involves complex reasons outside the scope of this article. Shakil is the unusual one. He spent five years in Dubai before coming to Singapore. We seize the opportunity to ask him to describe his...

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...