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More than 260 migrant workers owed salaries by contractor Shanghai Chong Kee: MOM

The Manpower Ministry launched investigations following the Oct 18 migrant worker protest in Ang Mo Kio.

More than 260 migrant workers owed salaries by contractor Shanghai Chong Kee: MOM

Some of the men protesting outside a building at 5 Ang Mo Kio Street 62 on Oct 18, 2022. (Screengrab: Instagram/singapore_incidents)

SINGAPORE: A total of 268 migrant workers were owed salaries by contractor Shanghai Chong Kee, and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is assisting them. 

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad gave this update on Wednesday (Nov 9) in response to parliamentary questions about the Oct 18 protest outside a building in Ang Mo Kio.

Ten men had blocked the entrance and exit of the building, demanding their salaries while holding up signs with the company name Shanghai Chong Kee in Mandarin.

The workers were from Zhengda Corporation - a subcontractor engaged by Shanghai Chong Kee.

Investigations later revealed that 268 migrant workers were owed salary payments. 

"As at Oct 31, Shanghai Chong Kee has settled part of the old payments and we are working with them on the payment schedule for the rest," said Mr Zaqy.

"So it is not that the employer had deliberately held back the payments, but we also understand that during these challenging times, sometimes payments are delayed. I think in the construction sector, we all know the challenges that they are facing too. So we try to mediate and see how best we can come to a middle ground (and) settle," he added.

"So rest assured that actually most of the payments have already been paid for. Their owed salaries are partially covered. So we are now settling the rest and there's an instalment plan being worked out."

While the authorities are unable to provide much detail as police investigations are still ongoing, Mr Zaqy said the Government takes "a very strong view" when a worker is owed their salary.

SALARY CLAIMS FELL "SIGNIFICANTLY" IN RECENT YEARS

The number of salary claims filed by migrant workers has "come down significantly" in recent years, said Mr Zaqy.  

"On average in 2022, TADM (the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management) handles about 160 salary claims from migrant workers each month compared to 410 in 2019," he noted.

Nevertheless, the ministry recognises the importance of timely salary payment to all workers and will continue efforts to "arrest salary arrears early" and assist all workers, both local and foreign, added Mr Zaqy. 

Migrant workers with salary arrears may approach the Forward Assurance and Support Team (FAST) officers or Friends of ACE (FACE) volunteers at their dormitories, or update MOM through the monthly salary survey on the FWMOMCare application. 

Unions and NGOs, such as the Migrant Workers' Centre which operates a hotline, can also support and advise migrant workers on where to get help and work with MOM to provide assistance to migrant workers. 

Source: CNA/gy(gs)
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