Portable toilets used by B-Construction workers (Source : MOM).

B-Construction Pte Ltd, was convicted in the State Courts on 1 December for housing its foreign workers (FWs) in unapproved accommodation and for aiding another construction company to house its FWs in a similar manner.

The accused company pleaded guilty to 11 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) and was fined a total of $74,000. Another 15 charges were taken into consideration for the purposes of sentencing.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that it has debarred both employers from hiring new FWs or renewing the work passes of their existing FWs.

MOM stated that investigations revealed that the company had housed its FWs, including FWs from another company, Hong Xie Long Pte Ltd., in a construction site quarters located at Canberra Crescent, from January to June 2015.

It noted that the company knew that approvals from relevant government agencies (the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Public Utilities Board (PUB)) and endorsement by a Professional Engineer were required before the workers could be housed onsite. However, it failed to obtain the necessary approvals and endorsements.

According to the Ministry, the 26 workers involved lived in temporary workers quarters consisting of containers and make-shift zinc huts that were cramped. The sanitary facilities were inadequate. Apart from the three poorly maintained portable toilets, there were no proper toilets or shower areas. The workers had to shower in the open-air wash areas using hoses.

Portable toilets used by B-Construction workers (Source : MOM).
Portable toilets used by B-Construction workers (Source : MOM).
Outdoor wash areas where B-Construction workers had to take their shower without privacy (Source : MOM).
Outdoor wash areas where B-Construction workers had to take their shower without privacy (Source : MOM).
Cramped sleeping quarters in containers and makeshift zinc huts where B-Construction workers spend their nights (Source : MOM).
Cramped sleeping quarters in containers and makeshift zinc huts where B-Construction workers spend their nights (Source : MOM).

MOM stated that it has assisted all FWs involved to relocate to other accommodation.

Commenting on the case, Director of Well-Being Department at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division, Ms Jeanette Har, said, “Employers must take the well-being of their workers seriously. We will take strong action against employers who house their workers in accommodation that does not have the necessary approvals and subject their workers to poor living conditions.”

On 3 March 2016, two construction companies, 3S Solid Surface Pte Ltd and Sing Solid Surface Pte Ltd, were fined a total of $180,000 for housing their workers in a factory premises with hazardous living conditions, and for making false declarations in the Online Foreign Worker Accommodation System (OFWAS).

In another case, on 31 May 2016, a dormitory operator KT Mesdorm was fined $300,000 for housing workers in overcrowded premises.

In 2015, MOM said that it had conducted over 1,450 housing inspections and took action against 2,300 employers for housing their FWs in unapproved premises. While, In 2014, MOM conducted 718 housing inspections and took enforcement action against 1,400 employers.

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations, employers are required to provide accommodation for their FWs that complies with the various statutory requirements.

Employers who contravene any of the conditions of the work pass will be guilty of an offence under Section 22(1)(a) of the EFMA. Offenders and can be fined up to $10,000 and /or imprisoned up to 12 months for each offence.

Members of the public who know of persons or employers who contravene the EFMA should report the matter to MOM at 6438 5122 or e-mail [email protected]. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

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