Forced repatriation still happens — Bala’s story

On this website, we used to carry a number of stories from workers who were lucky enough to escape forced repatriation. But that was several years ago. In the last 3 or 4 years, TWC2 received far fewer such cases. This reduction in cases could mean that attempts at forced repatriation declined, thus resulting in...

Boss agrees he didn’t pay salary… and then continues not to pay

By Ada Cheong, based on interviews in October 2018 Ten thousand dollars sounds like a hyperbolic sum of money. But that’s how much is owed to Alam and Mintu respectively, for a year’s backbreaking work. “Boss say ah, ‘Now (in my) pocket, money have. I no give (you), I (as) punishment no give,’” Mintu relates...

How two bosses reacted to their workers filing salary claims

The same evening that volunteer Liang Lei was doing interviews for his story Why do injured workers flee company housing and do they feel safe enough to return?, two other workers came to TWC2 with housing-related woes. But their stories also shine a light on the way employers try to bully workers into submission. Borhan...

On top of injury, Muktar struggles to get a place to sleep

By Adib Rafique based on an interview in March 2019 Working in Singapore is nothing new to Md Muktar. He worked here for more than seven years from 2007 to 2014 at a shipyard. He had two more short stints working in Singapore between 2015 to 2017 before he came back again in September 2018...

Why we didn’t help one worker

While we try to help every foreign worker who comes to TWC2 with a problem, our volunteers are realistic enough to know that some workers are not blameless. In such a situation, we modulate the help that we extend. About a month ago, a guy — let’s call him Sham (not his real name) —...

Why do injured workers flee company housing and do they feel safe enough to return?

By Liang Lei, based on interviews conducted in Feb 2019 Home – a personal space. A fleeting sliver of timeless refuge after a long day of work. A safe haven. Does this hold true for foreign workers who have suffered work-related injuries? According to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM), employers are obliged to guarantee proper...

“Money finish,” and “everything selling” while waiting for a new job opportunity

Most foreign workers in the construction industry are in their twenties. Volunteer Jeremy Xiao met a older man in January 2019, who spoke to him about the weight of his family responsibility and the struggle to land a job. Yet, some experiences are all the same whether for younger workers or older ones — salary...

Work permit renewal: mysteriously elusive documentation

By intern Ada Cheong The past few weeks have frustrated me in my search for an elusive piece of paper in Singapore. Nobody seems to have a physical copy of it. And much like a mythical creature, it evades photography. Does it even exist? If seeing is believing, I must admit: I have not seen...

Rahman and employer agree to settle salary claim… then nothing happens

By Grace Chua, based on an interview in August 2018 It has been three months since Rahman Mostafizur filed a salary claim with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Having started work in March 2017, he was dismayed to note that his salary was unilaterally reduced throughout the fourteen months of employment. Before joining Kah Development...

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...