Bangladeshi worker left in heavy debt after losing job in Singapore
Singapore/Dhaka: A Bangladeshi worker who had literally staked his life to come work in Singapore for a chance at a better life for his family back home has been left in heavy debt after he was lost his job.
Mohammad Ashadul Islam had sold his father’s land and fish farm and took a loan from banks and relatives to pay job agencies S$17,000 in order to find a job and pay for his trip to Singapore.
However, he was laid off from his job in Singapore due to a declining job market. He had been tasked with a variety of jobs around construction sites prior, including redirecting traffic around building sites and operating excavator equipment.
Islam, 25, is just one of thousands who have been forced to leaved Singapore’s shipyards and construction sites last year due to a 30 per cent contraction in the marine sector following a contraction in the energy industry.
It marked the first year since 2009 that a decline in the number foreign workers in low-skilled jobs fell in the country. The MOM stated that in 2016, the number of work permit holders in Singapore fell 12,600 to 753,000, with most of the cases related to shipping and construction in Singapore.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) gave him a month to secure a new job if he was to be allowed to stay in the country, but in the end he had to leave – with a debt of S$6,000 in tow which he had been unable to pay off with a basic salary of S$18 a day.
A system of temporary labour including jobs in construction, manufacturing, services and shipping usually acts as a buffer for Singaporeans when the economy is weak.
And often the loss of a job leaves foreign workers in heavy debt, who then regret their decision to work in Singapore.
“I go back for what? No fish, no land. I go back or die, same same,” was what he told Reuters in an interview.
Although those that still have jobs say they are happy with their circumstances, conditions are bad and many have to work 12 hour days with only one day off per month.
The MOM stated that it was beyond their responsibility on how foreign workers pay their way to Singapore and that it was necessary for their country of origin to regulate job agencies within their borders.
“We hope that source countries would do more to address the issue of high agency fees incurred, and we will refer cases to their embassies here for follow up where appropriate,” was an emailed statement to Reuters.