Real Life Stories: Migration Works Campaign 2016
Simple deeds, basic needs and mutual respect are what any worker would ask for from his employer. Keeping these in mind, young entreprenuer Suren Somasundrum, 29, not just puts his workers’ welfare as top priority, but also builds a strong bond of friendship with them. Having his kacang putih business since 17 years old, he believes in equal treatment of workers whether they are local or foreigners. Suren does not just provide basic needs like meals and accommodation for the workers, but also treats them once in every six months with an outdoor activity.
“Six months once we bring them for outing. The places vary and sometimes instead of going to places we will have a ‘makan besar’ at a restaurant.”
“This makes them happy and gets them to mingle with the local workers better,” he said.
From a total of 33 staff, he has 15 male foreign employees from India, Bangladesh and Nepal, whose contributions he is grateful for.
“They are not my employees, they are my colleagues.”
“We are treated the same. We eat together at the same place. We have rosters to do cleaning and my name is rostered as well,” Suren said.
Attributing the progress in business to all his employees, he said it is undeniable that without them it would not have been possible to build his business within six years.
“All these were possible because of my team, without them it would not have been possible,” he said.
Suren believes there should not be any room for comparison between local and foreign workers and he encourages productivity and better work performance by giving a monthly production bonus. These bonuses are accumulated and kept in a separate account for the workers, which will be given to them after their contract ends.
“For the locals we have insurance but for the foreign workers, we will keep aside an allocation and ask them to open a fixed deposit account in their country and keep the money.
“Usually when the salary is given monthly they will send it back and it could have been used and by the time the contract ends, they may not have anything to take back home, so the production bonus and these separated funds are given to them in bulk,” Suren said.
Some of the workers buy land and properties in their home country or save up for their children’s education, or pay up their debts. Suren says it is all about understanding and trust.
“They are humans also. They are not machines. They have to eat and rest. They have to go out. They came here trusting the employer,” he said.
Suren’s bond with his workers are evident when they invite him to their countries and he pays them a visit once in a while.
“We have built a bond beyond workers and employers. Sometimes they invite us for their weddings and we visit them. When something happens in their country, we give them leave and let them go back to attend to their family. Like the earthquake in Nepal or floods in India. They cannot work with an unhappy mind or being worried about their families,” he said.
Suren is an exemplary employer, who is a leader with humanity.
The Migration Works Campaign Team