This man on the picture is Rahman and a Bangladeshi. He came to Singapore in hope to be able to provide better living for his family.
He had a good career back then when he lived in Bangladesh. He worked in a garment factory and his job was to plan everything in the factory, the number of machines, materials and manpower that would go into the manufacturing of a jacket or a pair of jeans. He earned $400 every month with bonuses during Eid and yearly increases. His job was to plan everything in the factory.
But someone offered him a supervisory job in Singapore. In order to be able to come to Singapore and work here, he was asked to pay as much as S$10,000. He then agreed and borrowed the amount of money so that he would be able to fly here and get a better income.
He was promised to a salary of S$2,500 a month. He agreed to take a loan because he believed that with the amount of the salary that he was promised, he could repay the debt quickly and start earning for his family, his elder parents, two sisters and a brother.
When he got here, despite the fact that he was being promised to work a supervisory job, he was asked to work as a general worker instead and earned only S$1,200 a month. He even painted the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) building in Bendemeer.
He started to lose his patience and decided to file a report against his employer when he was asked to sign 18 pieces of bank salary vouchers. A document was also provided for him to sign which said that he received S$2,500 as his basic salary.
Rahman refused to sign the paper, but his employer did not give up. The employer then forced him to create a bank account and handed the ATM and the password to the employer, so that the employer could transfer S$2,500 to his account then withdraw S$1,300 later to create the impression that he had paid Rahman his rightful salary, let alone the overtime wages that he supposedly earned during his working period.
Rahman said, “Not only did he want to cheat me, he wanted me to lie and to say that I was not cheated. That was the reason I reported my case to MOM.”
His investigation took a almost a year. His employer has been charged and fined, but the department could not help him to get a new job and he said that getting a job in Singapore is very hard.
Rahman asked help for everyone who has a vacancy for him to fill in, because he still needs to support his family and has debt to pay.
Migrant workers in Singapore are very vulnerable. MOM had made the regulation related to foreign workers matter. But although the department had charged many employers, fined them, and some even had been put in jail, these cases are continuously happen along the time.
For almost all the time, foreign workers are being offered high salaries in their hometown by agencies and they are asked to sign a contract in English, despite the fact that many of them can not speak the language properly. In the first place, they are asked to pay some S$10,000 to S$20,000 for the agencies’ fees to be able to come to the country and find jobs here.
When they arrived to Singapore, the agencies that brought them here will hand them another contracts for them to sign which mention much lower salaries that they were being promised before. They have no choice but to sign on the contracts or else they will be sent home with debts to pay.
Then cases like the one that Rahman experienced happen almost all through the time and the government need to take stiffer actions to solve the problems.
If you have a job for Rahman, please contact HOME Singapore.
Local Non-government Organisations (NGOs) helping migrant workers
Ms Braema Mathi, founder and former president of the advocacy group Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) has also said that the work permit system makes it possible for dishonest employers to send their workers home without paying their wages. She urged MOM to conduct exit interviews or record their statements at the airport, before the workers return to their home countries.
NGOs such as HOME and TWC2 help to spread awareness in public about such issues. There are countless times when the Ministry paid more attention to the cases after the organisations brought the cases to the media. But the cases here are far too much for these organisations too handle as their resources as publicly funded entities are limited.
Editor’s note – There are some other migrant workers NGOs around but if you look at them closely, they are more likely to be GONGO – Government Organised NGOs.