Stuck in Limbo

Injured at the worksite, given no MC, employer refuses to pay for medical treatment, beat up by hired gangsters and forcefully repatriated. Unfortunately this is a common story we hear time and time again from migrant workers.

Uddin (name changed) is a 27 year-old Bangladeshi construction worker who has worked in Singapore for 6 years. Last year, Uddin was working at a construction site when he fell backwards and injured his spine, back, and shoulder. Although he had severe back pain, his employer only brought him to a private clinic the next day and, like many injured workers, he wasn’t issued any MC despite his injuries. The doctor suggested that Uddin get an MRI if his pain did not subside but despite his pain persisting his employer refused to pay for an MRI.

Deciding to take matters into his own hands, Uddin went to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, paid for an x-ray out of his own pocket and was given 2 months of MC. Uddin’s employer was unhappy when he found out that Uddin had been given MCs without his knowledge, and as a result cancelled his work permit.

Uddin’s employer hired gangsters to bring him to an office where the supervisor locked him in a room and beat him up. The same day they brought him to the airport and watched him until he went through immigration. For many foreign workers, this is the end of the story. Thankfully for Uddin, he knew his rights and approached an ICA officer, showing him the injuries that he had sustained and explaining that he was being forcefully repatriated. The officer issued Uddin a Special Pass and sent him to MOM to report his injury and file a police report.

Uddin approached HealthServe for assistance with his case and social assistance, as he was paying for his accommodation himself and wasn’t being paid any wages. HealthServe was able to mediate with MOM and Uddin’s employer to set up an emergency meeting between the three parties. Uddin’s employer eventually issued him a Letter of Guarantee (guaranteeing that the employer would pay for an MRI). Yet this story still has no ending. It has been over a year since Uddin’s injury yet there has been no resolution for him. He is owed MC wages, has an outstanding police report, and is waiting for an MRI to assess his medical condition.

Like many injured workers, Uddin is in limbo. He is unable to return to Bangladesh until these items are resolved. In the meantime, he reads books, converses with friends, and walks around.

By Jane Zhang

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