More help needed for foreign workers caught in pay disputes

I was dismayed to read about the plight of Bangladeshi worker Islam Rafiqul ("Labour Court can't make employer pay"; Jan 19).

He was owed $7,363 in unpaid wages by his employer. The Labour Court told the employer to pay up, but this has not been done and Mr Islam is caught in a quagmire.

The advice given to him by the Ministry of Manpower is "to go to the State Courts himself to apply for a court bailiff to seize the employer's assets and auction them off to recover the unpaid wages".

The catch is that he has to fork out more than $1,000 to start this process.

He has not received his pay. He is not allowed to work in the meantime. Our system works against a person like Mr Islam who is caught in a legal tussle to claim what is owed to him.

Surely there is a way for Singapore to help someone like him.

There may be merit in allowing workers like Mr Islam to obtain temporary work during the time their complaints are being heard.

This will allow such workers to earn some money to tide over the period when the case is being processed by the courts.

There should also be a legal avenue to assist such workers in pressing for owed wages, without them having to fork out additional fees.

I hope a good solution can be found to assist vulnerable workers such as Mr Islam.

Daniel Koh Kah Soon