Indian labourer in Singapore
Ramalingam Murugan, an Indian man hailing from Tamil Nadu, has successfully sued his employer in Singapore after he fell from a crowded lorry while on his way to work. This case has sparked a renewed debate about the working conditions and treatment of migrant labourers in the prosperous nation.
Accident and Legal Victory
Murugan suffered a leg fracture in an accident while he was commuting to work in his company’s vehicle. The court ruled in his favor and ordered his employer to pay him a compensation of one lakh Singapore dollars.
In January 2021, Murugan, along with 24 other labourers, was being transported from his dormitory to his workplace in a lorry. While on the lorry, another labourer accidentally pushed him, causing him to lose balance and fall to the ground. The resulting pain in his right knee led to the discovery of a fracture in his leg after he was taken to the hospital. He underwent surgery and was on medical leave for about five months.
In 2022, Murugan filed a lawsuit against his employer, Rigel Marine Services, seeking damages of 100,000 Singapore dollars for his injuries. The accident occurred while he was working as a structural steel and ship painter for the ship repair company. The company denied the claims, contending that Murugan had slipped while getting off the lorry. The recent court ruling favored Murugan, and the amount of damages will be determined later.
Working Conditions and Road Safety in Singapore
Singapore, known for its affluence, faces criticism for its poor working conditions and road safety for labourers. Many accidents occur during labourers’ transportation from their residences to workplaces, often involving lorries. These lorries are loaded with labourers from outside the city and lack proper seating and seat belts, leading to frequent injuries and sometimes fatalities.
In April 2021, a collision between a lorry carrying 17 labourers and a truck resulted in the death of two individuals, including an Indian. Similarly, in July, a collision between two lorries transporting labourers on a major highway caused injuries to 26 people.
Labourers’ Rights and Advocacy
Singapore, despite its prosperity, heavily relies on cheap migrant labor. Workers’ rights groups have advocated for a ban on transporting labourers in lorries, a stance previously supported by various government agencies. With around 1.4 million migrant workers, constituting a quarter of the population, Singapore faces ongoing challenges in improving the conditions and safety of its labor force.