Two men thinking of home

By Sun Hanchen Every day, tens of thousands of foreign workers begin their day in the wee hours of the morning. They are employed to do blue-collar work shunned by Singaporeans – construction, maintenance and transport amongst others – and are often treated as faceless economic factors. But they have families, and it is in...

Job prematurely ended, Mollah Sharif facing debt collectors in three days

By Bill Poorman All he needs is some more time. Not forever. “One week, two week, three week,” Mollah Sharif Hossain says. Instead, he got only three days. Three days to save his life. It’s a Monday evening at TWC2’s free meals programme. Just yesterday, Mollah Sharif and his co-worker, Rafique (who goes by one name),...

Kamroul waiting months for MRI, not allowed to work, no income

By Sun Hanchen Hasan Kamroul was a marine trades worker, working at Benoi Shipyard. 7 December 2016 was supposed to be just another normal work night for him, but all changed several hours into his shift. Having been tasked to move some 26-inch pipes with two of his fellow workers, Kamroul set about doing his...

The Everglory scam: productivity incentive shot to pieces

This is a story of how one branch of the government undermines what another branch is trying to do. Low productivity in the construction industry has been a concern for years. Among the measures being tried is a push to get construction companies to have higher-skilled or more experienced workers. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA),...

The rough seas of debt

In an earlier story[1], Liang Lei has sketched the origins of Sikder Sumon’s salary case and the long time it took at the Ministry of Manpower. Here, Edgar Chan adds a bit more detail about the MOM process and discusses the wider context By Edgar Chan On the evening of 25 May 2017, at Isthana...

Sumon’s salary case stretched for five months, exhausting his ability to fight for his full amount

By Liang Lei “I tired already”, was Sumon’s reply to why he chose not to continue pursuing his case, despite a settlement that will only entitle him to S$11,000. That’s half of the amount he believes is owed to him by his employer. Sumon has not seen his family for six years since his move to...

Hundreds of thousands of foreign workers stuffed into office drawers

By Katia Barthélémy Heading to one of the restaurants in Little India where TWC2 offers free meals to injured and salary-unpaid migrant workers, I am wondering about the kind of life story I will come across tonight. As a fairly new volunteer with TWC2, my limited experience makes me think everything is about physical injuries....

How do you determine if your employer or doctor is “good” or “bad”?

We wondered how a foreign worker might form an opinion whether he was getting adequate medical care. We picked a worker at random to see what he has to say. By Cheow Yong Jian Meet Kalam Md Abul, 28, a construction worker whose experiences leave him in considerable doubt on how to answer this question....

Anatomy of an S-Pass scam

By Darren Oei Rama, a forty-ish Indian national, comes up to TWC2 volunteer Alex, giving him an update to his case. Alex nods and says “Good, that’s good,” though I can’t make sense of what Rama is saying. Then for some reason, Rama turns to me and continues telling me his good news, but he...

Left bleeding for four hours, no ambulance called

By Sun Han Chen The senior volunteer clenches his fist tightly. “Are you able to do this?” he asks Khalil Ibrahim whom we’re interviewing. “Yes, but very pain,” Ibrahim replies softly, repeatedly rubbing his right forearm, which reveals a long scar where not long ago there had been seven stitches. It was a deep wound,...