Thu, Jun 04, 2009
By Cheryl Chia
MAKING others aware of the plight faced by migrant workers here is all Madam Fatimah Abdullah wants to do.
The 43-year-old housewife, a permanent resident, volunteers frequently at the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI), where she counsels foreign workers who are abused by their spouses here.
She befriends the workers by talking to them in their native tongue to make them feel more comfortable when opening up to her.
Madam Fatimah also helps out at the Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics (Home), which is part of a new umbrella group for foreign workers here, the Solidarity for Migrant Workers, which was launched last month.
The umbrella group includes two other non-governmental organisations: Migrant Voices, and Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2).
Home provides shelter and medical treatment for abused migrant workers. Mr Mosarof Ajgar Ali, a 31-year-old Bangladeshi national, currently unemployed, is one of those who had benefited from its help.
Mr Mosarof had been working as a labourer for a tentage company for seven years until he suffered a spinal injury when he was hit by a crane on Aug 24 last year.
He is hoping for compensation for his injuries and is now living in one of the shelters provided by Home while his case is being processed.
A Migrant Voices spokesman said: "There are more who need help, such as domestic workers and seamen. Because they do not work regular hours, they are not covered under the Employment Act and, hence, they are denied the right of paid sick leave or annual leave under the law, even if they are injured during work."
The Employment Act covers local workers and foreign workers, but excludes domestic workers.
However, a spokesman for the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) stated that both domestic and foreign workers are protected under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
MOM advises all foreign workers who face employment problems to approach it early for assistance.
Here are the numbers to call if you need help
Home: 6341-5525 (Migrant Domestic Workers) 6341-5535 (Others)
ACMI: 6280-5424, 6283-9953