The gathering of 30 migrant workers outside the old Central Provident Fund building site last Wed (6 Mar) could not be classified as a protest, as the workers did not gather for the purpose of promoting a cause or a campaign, or to endorse or object to the views or actions of any persons or groups, said the Singapore Police Force (SPF).
An SPF spokesperson told TODAY on Sun (10 Mar) that upon the police officers’ arrival at the old CPF site, the foreign construction workers were seated in an orderly manner, and told the officers that they were merely waiting to discuss the issue of their unpaid salaries with their employer, Stargood Construction.
Consequently, the workers’ gathering was not found by SPF to be a violation of the Public Order Act, which concerns assemblies and processions held in public spaces.
The SPF spokesperson said: “The police advised the workers to return to their dormitory and that the Ministry of Manpower would follow up with them”.
“They complied with the advice and returned to their dormitory,” added the spokesperson.
SPF noted that prior to the gathering, the workers had also contacted their employer on Mon (4 Mar) and Tue (5 Mar) regarding their unpaid salaries, reported to be around S$300,000 in total.
Foreign workers were holding “sit-down protest”, according to TODAY’s previous report
TODAY previously reported that over 30 foreign workers participated in a sit-down protest at the Central Business District (CBD) on Wed (6 Mar) demanding answers from their employer over unpaid salaries.
Those who participated in the protest said that 59 workers from Bangladesh, China and India were not paid for the work they had conducted from Dec last year to Feb this year.
They started their protest on Monday morning, with workers spending a few hours each day on-site.
Four police vehicles were reportedly spotted at the Maxwell Link site during the protest, and officers were seen talking to the workers.
Stargood Construction owner Lin Jie Biao, 33, told TODAY that his company, formed in 2011, has not been able to pay its workers due to main contractor Shimizu Corporation’s act of not paying the sub-contractor for its work since Dec last year.
Claiming that he is broke himself and has to rely on loans from family and friends to pay the salaries, Mr Lim said that his firm continued with the work despite not being paid, as “delayed payments are the norm in the industry”.
Stargood was a subcontractor hired to build and reinforce the foundation of the new project.
Sub-contractor Stargood Construction owes Shimizu Corp S$540,000, says main contractor
On Fri (8 Mar), it was reported by TODAY that main contractor Shimizu Corporation, in response to Mr Lin’s claims, had revealed that Stargood Construction currently owes the main construction firm around S$540,000.
Contrary to the promised number of workers, which was supposed to be around 80 to 110 workers daily, Shimizu claimed that only around 40 to 60 workers were supplied at the site.
Shimizu added that Stargood “failed to satisfactorily carry out sub-contract works,” and that consequently, it had “no other alternative but to provide adequate supply of labour and materials to Stargood” to conduct the building works at the site, which had set back Shimizu “around S$820,000”.
Deputy general manager of Shimizu Corporation’s Singapore office Bonaventure Lek elaborated: “These cost and expenses are borne by Stargood, and that exceeded the amount that we have yet to pay.
“This resulted in the non-payment. In fact, they owe us a balance sum instead,” Mr Lek told TODAY.
“After deducting the costs and expenses, a balance sum of about S$540,000 is now due and owing from Stargood to Shimizu,” he added.