Migrant Workers’ Centre honours ambassadors
In October, safety professional Ahmed Amad, 30, found out that a friend was owed two months' worth of salary - $1,800 in total - by his employer.
"He had no money to buy food, and had to come to me to borrow money. His parents also depended on his salary," said Mr Ahmed, a Bangladeshi work permit holder who has been working in Singapore for 10 years.
His friend, whom he knows as Manik, was in great distress and did not know where to go for help.
Mr Ahmed, with five years of experience as a volunteer ambassador with the Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC), referred him to the centre which managed to get him the sum of money back from his employer in about a month's time.
"With the money, Manik could go back to Bangladesh with peace of mind," said Mr Ahmed, who added that his friend has since found a new job.
Mr Ahmed was one of the 10 MWC ambassadors who were given certificates of recognition by Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad at a ceremony in Little India yesterday evening.
It was held in conjunction with a celebration featuring performances and games to mark International Migrants Day, which falls on Wednesday.
MWC's chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said that this volunteer network can help bring problems faced by their peers to the attention of the MWC. There are now 5,000 ambassadors, up from 1,500 in 2017.
Yesterday, the MWC, which is backed by the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress and employers, also said that it will be expanding its volunteer outreach efforts.
While the current pool of MWC ambassadors are mainly from the 45 purpose-built dormitories here, the MWC will now be reaching out to workers in factory-converted dormitories.
"As these non-purpose built dormitories may lack the necessary amenities and are often smaller in size, community and peer support might be lacking, especially for newer migrant workers or migrant workers facing disputes," said MWC in a statement yesterday.
2 CASES A MONTH
Mr Ahmed said that he refers about two cases to MWC a month. Common issues faced by workers include salary disputes or work injuries.
"Many workers are scared of going to the authorities, but we tell them that MWC can help," he added.
Besides flagging disputes, the MWC ambassadors also help educate their fellow workers on their employment rights or convey relevant information such as legislative amendments and celebratory events in the migrant community.