SINGAPORE: Two construction companies have been convicted for furnishing false information to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) with respect to their foreign workers’ addresses and living conditions, according to a press release by the ministry on Friday (Mar 4).
On Thursday, 3S Solid Surface and Sing Solid Surface were convicted in the State Courts for providing false information on its workers to MOM. The companies pleaded guilty to 18 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) and were fined S$180,000 in total. Another 30 charges were taken into considering for the purpose of sentencing.
MOM said it has debarred the employers from hiring foreign workers and they will also not be able to renew the passes of their existing workers.
Investigations revealed that from July 2007 to June 2014, the companies had given fake addresses to the ministry on where they were housing their workers.
The illegally converted factory dormitory housing more than 40 foreign workers. (Photo: MOM)
The two companies, which had a common director, had been housing their workers at their factory premises at 10 Admiralty Street. The Online Foreign Worker Address Service (OFWAS) system they used to submit the workers’ address would not have accepted this address, as it is a factory premises. So the companies registered their 24 foreign workers in other residential addresses they were not residing in.
Separately, 17 other workers were also housed in the illegally converted factory dormitory from November 2012 to July 2014, said MOM. The companies did not have the approval from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) to change the use of the premises. SCDF also found that the existing fire safety measures for the area were inadequate for a dormitory.
According to MOM, these were the conditions the workers’ lived in:
- The illegal accommodation did not have a proper escape route.
- The mezzanine level of factory unit where the workers slept was unsafe as the plywood flooring was unstable.
- The entire premise was dusty due to on-going construction work.
- The factory severely lacked sanitary and showering facilities.
- There were only two toilets to be shared between 41 workers.
- Workers took their showers in the open.
MOM added that some of the workers had resided in the premises for more than a year.
Workers living on the mezzanine level had unstable plywood flooring, which compromised workers’ safety and well-being. (Photo: MOM)
MOM said that employers who wilfully provide false information on OFWAS can be sentenced to a fine of up to S$20,000 and/or imprisonment of up to two years for each offence.
Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations, employers are required to provide accommodation that complies with the various statutory requirements for their foreign workers. Failure to do so is an offence under the EFMA, and offenders can be sentenced to a fine of up to S$10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months for each offence, said MOM.