We believe that data is vital to measuring progress towards our mission. This report gives an overview of our work in 2014, showing the pro bono hours donated, our efforts in building cross-border networks, and a point by point description of our work to date. [Download PDF]
A Practitioner’s Manual for Migrant Workers
This publication is the first of its kind for Singapore, allowing legal and non-legal advocates in Singapore and clients’ home countries to assess and bring legal claims remotely in Singapore courts. Workshop trainings on will be held in 2015.
Two transnational cases on behalf of exploited migrant workers
Illegal kickbacks—One worker was forced to pay illegal kickback of S$7,000 to his employer. JWB prepared the case for pro bono attorneys at Duane Morris & Selvam. The case is underway, and the worker will shortly return home.
Enforcement of judgment—Bad employers often refuse to pay, even under court order! JWB is seeking to collect S$5,000 for a worker who obtained judgment against an employer for non-payment of wages. The worker has since returned home.
Strategic legal research launched
Determining legality of “In-Principle Agreement” for workers
All employers must give migrant workers an IPA that states wages and working conditions prior to arriving in Singapore. The final employment contract is often radically different, costing workers thousands of dollars in lost wages. JWB is developing a guide for administrative and civil courts in determining evidentiary value of IPA when it conflicts with the contract.
Addressing multiple payment provisions in workers’ contracts
Contracts in the construction sector often include hourly, salary and piecemeal payment provisions, with a “switch” provision that allows the employer to change payments at will. Administrative courts often default to the easiest system to calculate wages, usually to the worker’s detriment. JWB is developing a guide for courts in striking down or interpreting such provisions against the employer.
Surveying Thai migrant workers’ access to justice in Japan, and upon return home.
JWB is conducting an initial mapping of Thai migrant workers in Japan, their vulnerabilities to exploitation, and their civil remedies against abusive employers. Research focuses on how to obtain remedies after the worker has returned to Thailand. The final report will guide advocates in Japan and Thailand on practical strategies for claiming compensation in Japan.
Connecting Japanese public interest lawyers and Thai migrant worker NGOs
We developed partnerships between Japanese lawyers and Thai NGOs in Bangkok on cases involving Thai workers and Thai spouses in Japan.
Outreach to legal aid in Indonesia
JWB connected with seven legal aid and migrant worker support organizations in Indonesia. These organizations serve migrant workers returning from JWB’s target host countries. JWB will work with these organizations in 2015 to identify potentially viable cases against abusive employers in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Building migrant worker organizations’ case management capacity
We worked with organizations in Jakarta and Lombok island to develop data-centered case management capacity. This approach will enable the organizations to better track trends in client service, improve data-based advocacy, and identify potential cross-border claims. JWB will host a workshop with these organizations on implementing data-centered case management in 2015.