Last updated on December 19th, 2008 at 10:35 am
Some 179 foreign workers from Bangladesh fear they may not have a place to sleep or food to eat in the coming days. Their employer has basically abandoned them and they are being evicted from their dormitory in two days.
The Online Citizen (TOC) was alerted to their plight and visited them yesterday at Tagore Lane.
The workers had each paid agents some S$8,500 for a 2-year contract to work in Singapore shipyards. The agents said they could earn up to S$18 per day and more if they worked on Sundays. In two years, they could earn some S$15,000, enough to cover the money they paid to the agents and bring home a small sum.
However, they are not employees of the shipyards. The sub-contractor employed them and sent them to the shipyards to work as welders and electricians. Their starting pay was S$16 per day but were paid only if they had job assignments. After being here for more than a year, they had their pay increased by one dollar to $17 per day. For a good period of time, it was not an issue. But in the past two and a half months, many of them did not get any work assignments – some for as long as four months - and thus no pay as well.
Now they are worried and desperate about what will happen next. Their employer has denied responsibility for them and has vacated the office from the factory. The drivers who drove them to work have also vacated the dorm. They have no money and no food and were told that the landlord is going to evict them as the rental period for the dormitory is expiring soon. They have called the police and approached the Ministry of Manpower yesterday for assistance but to no avail. Their next course of action is to seek help from their embassy here.
TOC will update readers on the situation in future reports.
Headline picture by Stephii Chok.
Here is a video interview with the workers.
Pictures by Boris Chan: