The following is the latest update by the good-hearted Singaporean (GHS) who’s been helping out and keeping tab on the situation with the 179 stranded Bangladeshi workers. Read his earlier update here. TOC thanks GHS for providing us with the updates.
I went down yesterday with more donations, and took one of them shopping for the necessities they need. Apparently, someone also came down yesterday and passed everyone $100 each. But I told them in lieu of the uncertainties not to spend them too soon. There were also two people who had minor accidents over the past few months and who didn't know they could most likely claim medical insurance or something like that either from their bosses or MOM.
The good news is Hand to Hand, a Muslim organisation with vast experience in helping foreign workers is now involved. The founder, an old feisty lady in a wheelchair came down personally and spoke to them, and inspired them not to give up hope. (She was in hospital past two days, and came down the moment she was discharged) We all can learn from her.
What we know is that as of today (saturday), MOM will have a meeting with the subcontractor and the boss of Tipper. The workers had expressed their refusal to move unless they were paid the salary owned to them for the past two months. I believe that they will be paid eventually, now that MOM and Hand to Hand is involved. You just don't mess with feisty old women. lol.
The bad news is, even after the pay issue is settled, they may not have work to do, and I guess some, if not most of them will have to be asked to leave once their work permit expires. I know of other heresays regarding this, but until it is verified and set in stone, no point speculating.
At this moment, I feel that we should be cautious with the donations. No point donating too many things if the workers may not stay here for long. We need to monitor the situation further. There is a chance that the workers will get work early next year, maybe March, and if they start running out of basic necessities, it is not too late by then to chip in. But for those who intend to donate nonetheless, or have donated, don't worry. If you give to TWC2 it is for a very good cause. You may not be helping these dudes, but other workers will benefit. As we know TWC2 is a non-profit organisation and need all the funds they can muster.
I asked them why they still came in spite of all the unfair treatment. They had to borrow money from the Dakar bank to pay for the agents' fee. Ultimately, what they make here in a day is still more than what they make back in Bangladesh in two weeks. When you look at it from that angle, won't you also prefer to work overseas, despite the unfavorable conditions? Of course, what I find difficult to bear is that the sub con probably took a huge cut from each of the workers, though they didn't know much... this is sheer profiteering, and irresponsibility when things turn sour. (eg - not taking responsibility for medical claims) But this is just pure speculation.
The workers also feel that the Singpore Labor Law is quite skewed in favor of the employers. I didn't say much regarding this as I know very little. What needs to be done is really relook at the labor laws and see how workers can be further protected from such cases.
Lastly, I thank all the people who had expressed concern at the situation of the workers. As for those who do nothing but spew words of anger and unsympathy because they had it worse before, I'd like to thank you too (you know who you are). You made everyone realize why inhumane acts like this can still occur on a regular basis.