Thirty year old Khairul has been working in Singapore since 2009. The oldest son in the household, he left his home in Bangladesh and came to Singapore in hopes of making money to support his family. He has one older sister and three younger brothers. On the 31st of April in 2014, Khairul arrived in Singapore to start a new job. Khairul’s work involved the installation of smoke detectors. He worked from May to July in 2014. To his dismay, he was not paid his salary. He was owed approximately $3,900.
On the 1st of August 2014, he lodged a complaint with Ministry of Manpower (MOM). His case was brought to the Labour Court. These legal proceedings continued all the way until the 6th of January 2015. These five months were hard for Khairul. Since his work permit had been cancelled, he was issued a special pass and not allowed to work in Singapore.
Unfortunately, Khairul’s case at the Labour Court was dismissed on the 6th of January 2015. His employer had produced signed salary vouchers and witnesses who claimed that they had seen Khairul receive his salary. Claiming the salary vouchers had been forged and witnesses pressured into submitting false statements, Khairul decided to study the possibility of filing an appeal to the High Court.
The law entitles a worker to file an appeal to the High Court within 2 weeks upon the judgment issued by the Labour Court. For Khairul, this would be on the 20th of January 2015. Within these two weeks, Khairul had to seek advice on the matter and find a legal representative who would submit the appeal on his behalf. He told his employer of his intentions to file an appeal.
Despite that, his employer bought an airplane ticket for Khairul to return home on the 14th of January. A special pass expiring on that date was also issued by MOM. Without a work permit or a special pass permitting his stay in Singapore, he would have to leave Singapore and be unable to file his appeal to the High Court. In effect, the window for his appeal submission had been halved.
HOME assisted him to request an extension of his stay in Singapore to MOM, so that he would have sufficient time to consider an appeal to the High Court; but this request was rejected. Even though he has the right to file an appeal, he could not do so because the Ministry of Manpower did not legalise his stay in Singapore and insisted he depart the country . No reason was given.
With his hands tied and still desiring to submit an appeal, Khairul remained in Singapore. As a result of overstaying his special pass, Khairul was fined $100. HOME assisted him to procure the financial resources to find his own way back home. He was unable to file an appeal with the High Court.
*Article first appeared on http://home-blog.org/2015/02/02/no-choice-but-to-return-home/