He works 20 hours a day to feed family of 8

He works 20 hours a day to feed family of 8
Mr Hamdan and his wife Lilah with their children - (from left) Muhammad Alif Izwaan, 11; Muhammad Alif Farhan, 13; Muhammad Alif Syazwaan, five; Nur Atifa Inshirah, seven; Muhammad Alif Raihan, 12; and Muhammad Alif Irfaan, 12 - who were happy as their dad had taken leave to be home for the photo.

Hamdan Ahmad, 45, works nearly round the clock in two jobs to take home a combined pay of around $2,170 a month, barely enough to support his family of eight.

From 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and for half a day every Saturday, he works as a pest control technician, earning $970, excluding his Central Provident Fund contribution.

He returns home by 5.30pm each day to take a quick nap and shower, and have his only meal.

By 7.15pm, he is out again, making a half-hour bus journey from his two-room rental flat in Dover to his second workplace at Lucky Plaza in Orchard Road.

This job - as a security guard on night shift - nets him another $1,200, excluding CPF.

When his 12-hour shift ends at 8am, he takes a quick shower, changes at the workplace and heads back to his day job.

Sometimes, on Sundays when he is off, he works another 12-hour shift as a freelance security guard for $70.

The father of six children aged between five and 13 says he works every chance he can get. Like many low-wage workers, he has seen his wages fall. At one point his take-home pay from the pest control job was around $1,200.

His routine comes at great cost, says his wife, Madam Titiek Lilah, 40. "Because he does not get enough sleep, he keeps falling sick. And the children don't get to see him at all."

He gets to sleep during a three-hour break in his 12-hour night-shift job.

Madam Lilah used to work the graveyard shift in a factory when her three older children were toddlers and Mr Hamdan had only one job.

But one morning on returning from work, she fell into a deep sleep without cooking lunch.

"The kids could not wake me up, ended up eating raw hot dogs and had to be taken to hospital," she recalled. "After that we thought it's best that he works and I stay at home."

The family is waiting for a new two-room Housing Board flat next year, paid for by his and his wife's CPF savings.

But some pet peeves remain. Mr Hamdan is upset that he does not qualify for the Workfare Income Supplement which would give him an additional $2,000 per year, most of it in CPF.

The reason is that his combined salary is higher than the $1,900 Workfare income ceiling.

"I feel sad that despite working hard on low pay, I don't get Workfare," he said. "This is unfair."


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