SINGAPORE: A construction company has been fined S$74,000 for housing foreign workers in unapproved accommodation, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Thursday (Dec 1). The company, B-Construction, also helped another construction firm house its foreign workers in a similar manner.
In a media release, MOM said B-Construction pleaded guilty to 11 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and was convicted on Thursday. Another 15 charges were taken into consideration for the purposes of sentencing, MOM said, adding that it has banned both employers from hiring new foreign workers or renewing the work passes of their existing foreign workers.
According to MOM, B-Construction housed its foreign workers, as well as workers from another company, at a construction site located at Canberra Crescent from January to June last year, despite knowing that it lacked approval from relevant Government agencies and an endorsement by a Professional Engineer.
The 26 workers involved lived in temporary workers' quarters consisting of containers and makeshift zinc huts, MOM said. Sanitary facilities were also inadequate, as there were only three poorly maintained portable toilets, and no proper toilets or shower areas. The workers had to shower in open-air wash areas using hoses.
Poorly maintained portable toilets used by B-Construction workers. (Photo: MOM)
Outdoor wash areas where B-Construction workers had to take their shower without privacy. (Photo: MOM)
All 26 foreign workers have relocated to other accommodation with MOM's assistance, it 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 approval and subject their workers to poor living conditions,” said Ms Jeanette Har, Director of Well-Being Department at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division.
This is not the first time this year that authorities have clamped down on shoddy accommodation for foreign workers. In March, two construction companies, 3S Solid Surface and Sing Solid Surface were fined S$180,000 for housing their workers in a factory with hazardous living conditions, and for making false declarations in the Online Foreign Worker Accommodation System. In May this year, dormitory operator KT Mesdorm was fined S$300,000 for housing workers in overcrowded premises as well, MOM said.
"Last year, MOM conducted over 1,450 housing inspections and took action against 2,300 employers for housing their foreign workers in unapproved premises. In 2014, MOM conducted 718 housing inspections and took enforcement action against 1,400 employers," it added.
Under local laws, employers are required to provide accommodation for their foreign workers that comply with various statutory requirements, MOM said, adding that employers who contravene conditions of the work pass could be fined up to S$10,000, jailed for up to 12 months for each offence, or both.
It also urged members of the public who know of people or employers who contravene the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act to get in touch by calling 6438 5122 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.