Abandoned Workers Survived On Fishing and Wild Vegetables

Huh. I thought this country can't get any worse. I guess I was wrong. How embarrassing and frustrating to hear these people's plight and to know it is caused by one of our own. So much for being friendly and wealthy.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Abandoned workers survive on fishing and wild vegetables
By James Kon

Twenty-eight foreign construction workers were allegedly abandoned by their employer
without a cent in wages for four months and left to fend for themselves.
The construction workers who are staying at a double-storey wooden building in the Kilanas industrial area approached the Borneo Bulletin to voice their plight.
The victims comprised 14 Thais, three Indonesians, nine Indians and two Filipinos.
One of the construction workers from Thailand, Khammat, claimed that, "We haven't received any salary for four months from our employer. We have barely enough money to buy food everyday".
The construction worker who has been working in Brunei for around two years alleged that, "Some of the workers have to look for fish in a stream and wild vegetables to put food on the table. It's hard. We have nowhere to go and no money. If there is food, we always share, (but) there is barely enough for everyone.
"Recently I went to my employer's house to demand our salary but I was chased out of his house.
"We lodged a complaint with the various embassies and the Labour Department around two months ago but we are still stuck here."
When asked where their passports are, he replied, "Our passports are still kept by our employer". However, he did produce a photocopy of his passport and work permit.
Another worker Soban Soprang who was among the few lucky ones who managed to obtain a stable job with another company claimed that, "The workers and myself haven't seen a penny for four months from my former employer.
"I was lucky enough to find another job as a mechanic, but the rest still don't know whom to turn to for assistance.
"We did lodge complaints but nothing has been done to force the employer to pay up our salary.
"The victims' families also suffer in their home countries as there are no income being sent back.
"We would like to plead to the relevant authorities to help solve the issue as soon as possible," he said.
Mr Ana Juk, Minister Counsellor of Labour at the Royal Thai Embassy in Brunei when contacted said that the embassy had received a complaint from the construction workers and is trying to help by trying to transfer the workers to other potential companies. However, this is not easy, he said.

Source: Borneo Bulletin, "Abandoned workers survive on fishing and wild vegetables", 4th August 2009.