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    May 13, 2016

    NTUC to help conserve migrant workers' space

    THE labour movement has pledged its support to keep a struggling migrant workers' cultural space open after its owner said he was finding it too expensive to continue operations.

    In a letter to The Straits Times forum published yesterday, Migrant Workers' Centre chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said that Dibashram's activities, which include poetry competitions and counselling services, are "positive efforts to help workers here integrate better".

    AKM Mohsin, who runs both Dibashram and local monthly Bengali newspaper Banglar Kantha, had been using the paper's profits to pay for the centre's rent and utilities of about $3,000 a month.

    But advertising revenue has fallen and he can no longer afford to pay for rent and utilities at the Rowell Road shophouse where Dibashram is housed. The 600 sq ft unit on the second floor doubles as his office.

    Mr Yeo, whose worker advocacy centre is backed by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said he will be in touch with Mr Mohsin on how to "help the good work of the centre continue".

    "I'm grateful for the help," said Mr Mohsin, adding that he is still considering the offer.

    Besides NTUC's support, a crowdfunding site by researchers Mohan Dutta and Manishankar Prasad has raised more than $4,800 in five days in an ongoing campaign.

    Mr Mohsin said: "Although it is not a permanent solution, we are thankful for the support that locals here have shown."

    He is currently in talks with dormitories who are interested to buy copies of Banglar Kantha for their residents. A few companies have also shown interest in taking out advertisements since the report ran.

    "If more people buy the paper, it will help draw advertisers and that is a more sustain-able way to support Dibashram," said Mr Mohsin.