After interviewing Bian Hua and Wang Lei, foreign workers from Jiang Su, China, our team has written their stories for you.
This is their story.
Wang Lei and Bian Hua are both from the same village in Jiang Su, Lian Yun Gang city. They are under the support of Healthserve, which aids injured foreign workers, addressing their medical, legal, physical, and emotional needs. Bian Hua suffered from an injury at work, a comminute fracture – a break or splinter of the bone into more than two fragments. However, he was only given a day of medical leave for the injury and states that the company he is working under had asked the doctor not to issue any more medical certificates to him. Additionally, the leave was considered unpaid.
Having attempted to request for a longer MC to recover from his fracture at the clinic, he was told to bring the matter up to his company. When he voiced my disapproval, the clinic told him that if he continued doing so, he would be deemed as uncooperative. Afterwards, the company was displeased and requested that he pay for his own medical treatment. Since he did not have any savings, the company not providing any allowance, he did not have money to cover the fees for treatment.
He decided to raise the issue to the Ministry of Manpower (MoM), and MoM referred him to Tan Tock Seng hospital. MoM made the request for Bian Hua’s company to cover his medical fees and thankfully, he was able to claim his medical fees after. Sadly, without funds, he states that the doctors would not have seen to them. Bian Hua finds that when migrant workers are injured, employers would talk about our contracts and the compensation, but will delay and fail to deliver. Sometimes, the migrant workers will lose contact with their companies as well.
Wang Lei adds that when workers are unwell or injured, they are sent to private clinics by their companies. At these clinics, they are often deprived of benefits that they should be entitled to. For example, when suffering from a fracture, they would only be given a few days of MC, whereas at hospitals like Tan Tock Seng hospitals, they would be given more benefits. In addition, when migrant workers are severely injured and require at least half a year to recover, companies would give at most a month of sick leave, or in some cases, indicate that the migrant workers left the job.
As migrant workers from China, they do not receive as many benefits compared to migrant workers from other countries such as Malaysia and India. These benefits include an increase in wages when working on Sundays and other special occasions as well as tea breaks between working hours. While the Singapore government have regulations on the break times, they find that employers from small companies often exploit them in order to maximize the profit of the company. While the workload of a Singaporean or Malaysian employee is significantly lesser, what they do in 3 days is equivalent to what China migrant workers have to complete in a day. Their employers request a certain amount of work to be completed each day, and if they fail to meet, they are not paid for the day. Since the employers require them to work tirelessly to meet deadlines, many of them are injured in the process. They find it unfair when Singaporeans are better protected that workers from China, in terms of ensuring that safety is not compromised during work.
Bian Hua states that the two of them are happy to be at Healthserve where there are people who would help and care for them. Under the support of Healthserve, a charitable organization, they are provided financial support and aid in acquiring food as well as other basic necessities. In addition, they also received financial help for their medical and phone bills. When faced with trouble with hiring companies, Healthserve also acts as the middlemen to help negotiate with the companies and solve their problems. Due to the language barrier, the two of them face many difficulties when trying to communicate with their employers. With Healthserve acting as the middleman, it helped improve communication. As there are many Chinese workers here in Singapore, there are a lot of venues where we can get help from.
They happily find that Singapore has a good environment where it is easy to communicate with people here, with the high ratio of Chinese people in Singapore. Here at Singapore, when they need help finding their way around, they can approach Singaporean Chinese for help. Moreover, they find that there is good governance in Singapore. As compared to the other small Middle Eastern countries, they find that the government does a better job in running the country, especially in the context of safety.
They also want to let Singaporeans know that while the MoM is still lacking in support provided to foreign workers, they like the other aspects of Singapore. They also voiced that the Singapore government is biased towards the companies as they are the ones who would boost the country’s economy. Foreign workers who come to earn money and not to boost Singapore’s economy, they find, are often at the losing end.
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