By Nor Karno
Easrafile Sikdar Eskandar Sikdar approached Transient Workers Count Too for assistance on 30 October 2013 with an unusual request. Most workers ask us to help them commence or progress their salary or injury compensation claims, but Easrafile asked for the opposite. Could you help me stop the process because I want to go home? he asked.
As he explained why, he started to tear. His father had just had a heart attack, and he wanted to go home quickly. It was more important to him than anything else. Amid the busy little restaurant where TWC2 operates our free meals programme (The Cuff Road Project), he broke down.
We don’t know much about how his case started, because he did it on his own and we weren’t involved at that stage. What we subsequently learned however, was that he had lodged a formal claim at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) that he had been short-paid by $1,050 by his employer, over a period of about five months. Exactly how he came to a figure of $1,050, we don’t know. By the time he needed our assistance, this was no longer the issue in question. He just wanted to go home.
He had earlier been issued a Special Pass by MOM and informed that he had to be in Singapore while his case underwent investigation. As to how long it was going to take, no indications were given to him. He faced an indefinite wait.
Then his family told him his beloved father had fallen ill. A note from the attending physician was sent to him saying that the older man had suffered an Acute Myocardial Infarction (the technical term for heart attack). Despite the money he felt was owed to him, Easrafile had to make a tough decision to withdraw his salary claim so that he could go back to Bangladesh at short notice. TWC2 assisted him in communicating with MOM to withdraw his case.
MOM sent him an acknowledgement of his withdrawal request on 6 November 2013. Then, on 13 November 2013, another letter was mailed to him to say that he was no longer required to stay in Singapore. His employer would purchase an air ticket for him, as per MOM’s rules.
Easrafile was happy to know he was now free to go home. However, he also knew that he would have to leave Singapore with $1,050 less.
But there’s a twist in the story. On 18 November, he called TWC2 again. He had just been to his employer’s office to collect his air ticket, he said, but the company also gave him an envelope, in which was $1,050 in cash.
He couldn’t tell us how that happened. Did MOM press the employer to pay up? Or did the employer, seeing that he was facing a family crisis, choose to be generous and just give him what he claimed as a gratuity?
We don’t know. We thought about asking MOM and the employer, but we doubted if we’d get straight answers.
Easrafile flew home on 22 November 2013. It was a sweet conclusion to his case and we wish him all the best.