According to activist group Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), an injured migrant worker in Singapore was left unemployed, homeless and forced to lead a hand-to-mouth existence with zero income, after his employer suddenly fired him, threw his belongings in the trash and left his medical bills unpaid.
TWC2 is dedicated to helping low-wage migrant workers in Singapore, who make up about 20 percent of the total population, when they are in difficulty or exploited by employers.
In an article published on its website earlier this month, TWC2 shared the plight of such a worker, Durzey Mohammad Raihan Hossan, who was suddenly left destitute in Singapore after he suffered injuries to his left leg and back in two separate incidents that occurred last December and this January during the course of his work at a construction site.
While Durzey’s employer initially honoured the few weeks of medical leave he was given after he sustained injuries, his situation grew dire when his employer conducted a sudden raid of his dormitory when he was not there and found a pack of cigarettes among his belongings.
When Durzey returned to the dorm, he found his belongings in the trash and was told that his employer had “terminated his Work Permit for being in possession of that one pack of cigarettes,” which is not allowed to be kept in the dorm.
Durzey told TWC2, “Boss angry, give ticket go Bangladesh,” despite his injuries that caused “Many pain, many problem, cannot tahan,” and needed medical treatment.
While the Ministry of Manpower gave Durzey a Special Pass so he could legally stay in Singapore while his compensation claim is ongoing, the worker has been left destitute since the pass does not allow him to work.
With zero income, Durzey relies on his friends and family back home in Bangladesh – who likely hoped that he would send them his earnings from Singapore – to send financial aid for him to meet his daily needs here.
Although a friend has generously allowed Durzey to stay with him, TWC2 says: “He has been living hand-to-mouth, dealing with his expenses as and when it is necessary – food, lodging, transport, clothing, the list goes on.”
Durzey’s hopes that his employer would at least take care of his medical expenses, since he suffered a work injury, were dashed when he reportedly received a call from the hospital telling him that his employer had stopped paying the hospital his medical bills.
Frantic when the hospital called him again demanding payment since his employer had apparently been evading calls, Durzey called his ex-boss but was “met with angry and impatient responses.” According to TWC2, “his superior even suggested that he simply pay the bills out of his own pocket first before coming back to request a reimbursement.”
Although Durzey is now pressing his former employer to settle the bills through a lawyer he has engaged, his situation remains insecure and unstable. TWC2 says:
“Beyond just statistics or reports, this is the reality, on the ground, that Durzey, and perhaps many more like him, have to struggle with, when the system that they had trusted to protect their rights is abused.”
TWC2 reports that their caseload often exceeds their limited means. To give to the cause, visit http://twc2.org.sg/getinvolved/donate/.