By TWC2 volunteer Jim Sangwine, July 2020

Four years ago Sharif was offered a job in Singapore, but first he had to take a basic skills course at a training center in Bangladesh, as required by the Building and Construction Authority for all workers aspiring to work in construction. He chose a metal working course. The training center took his passport and the course cost 5 lakhs (about $9,000), but it would be worth it for the chance to earn a better salary.

Sadly it didn’t work out as Sharif hoped, and he has had 5 different jobs here in the past 4 years.

He tells our intern that the first company was not honest, and he received only intermittent pay. Luckily his cousin got him a job at a better company that treated him well and paid him on time, but sadly they didn’t have enough projects and had to let him go after just 11 months.

The third job cost him 3 lakh (about $5,400) in recruitment cost, and paid $24 a day. It lasted just 11 months. One day he asked for a day off to rest because he was unwell, but his boss told him his salary would be docked $500 – the equivalent of 20 days’ work.

Next he worked 4 months on a project building Singapore’s underground metro, and never got paid. He complained to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and after the case was concluded, he had to go home. MOM said he would be able to return, but his visa application kept being rejected. You might think Sharif would be done with Singapore by now, but his wife had given him a beautiful son so he kept trying to return so he could provide a better life for them.

When his son was just two months old he finally got a work permit for his fifth and final job. For his first month they only paid him $300, for the second $600, and that was it. After 4 months he gave up and went to MOM — again. Sharif is stuck here, unable to see his family or to earn money for them.

In total he has paid $21,000 in agents’ fees.