TWC2’s monthly outreach took place on 14 June 2015 at Boon Lay.  Two social workers, three interns and eight volunteers participated. Led by social worker Louis Ong, they fanned out to distribute TWC2 flyers and speak to workers to introduce the ways we can help them. We stress that our services are provided free of charge.

Here are some thoughts that four participants had after the event:

Alexandra: It was pleasant experience, and the workers were generally quite receptive. Quite a number even came up to us asking what’s going on and hoping to get the flyers we were handing out. Of course we obliged. However, some others were a little suspicious because they thought we were trying to sell them something. It would be good to have someone with us who can speak their language.

There was one guy who told me about his previous job in Singapore that didn’t end well. The gist of it was that there was short payment of salary, but he mentioned that his experience with MOM wasn’t very pleasant. It was not a good experience with the MOM officer assigned to his case, he said.

Andy: I met a Bangladeshi worker who told me about his friend who works the night shift regularly, and for that reason wasn’t with him in the park. He said his friend was working as a general worker and paid as such, when he had “a lot of qualifications” — crane operator, safety supervisor and so on. His point, I think, was that he would like to change jobs to one that better suited his qualifications, and earn more as a result, but this could not be done. Possibly work permit regulations that tie workers to their current employers stood in the way.

Then there was another worker who wanted assistance from TWC2. However, he voiced his fear that his boss would find out that he had sought help over the problems he was facing, and penalise him. I assured him that at TWC2, our policy is that we wouldn’t talk to the boss without the client’s permission.

I also met two guys on a bench who had paid $14,000 to their agent to secure their jobs. They were new arrivals, and this amount is nearly twice what other new arrivals would be paying.

Minyi: I was somehow expecting to see more Bangladeshi workers, but it turned out that there were quite a number of China workers, and we ran out of Chinese flyers.

One worker we met said his salary had been unpaid for four months. He has lodged a complaint at MOM already and has a mediation session scheduled for later this month.

Johann: Some workers were warm, some pretty cold. Many were in between, a bit tentative. Maybe they thought we were selling or soliciting something. They must have thought it was too good to be true that people would help you for free.

One hostile guy’s response to us was: “What if I call you and then you tell my employer, then how?”  This speaks to the level of fear that migrant workers have.

Within the hour and a half, it wasn’t hard to encounter workers who were already having problems. A group of five guys said they had worked one month and ten days, but have not been paid their salaries. They said there were altogether 18 of them in the same predicament. We asked them to come in to the office for a detailed consultation, but I don’t know if they will get scared and not show up.

[doptg id=”7″]