Firm charged with housing workers in rat-infested dorms

A construction firm which housed 60 foreign workers in rat-infested dormitories at a construction site was charged in the State Courts on Tuesday.

Kay Lim Construction & Trading had housed the workers in unacceptable accommodation with unhygienic living conditions, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a statement yesterday.

The firm also did not update the ministry, via an online system, on some of the foreign workers' housing addresses.

MOM, which learnt of the poor living conditions in November 2015, said the firm faces 80 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA).

The ministry's investigations showed the firm had housed the workers - from its company and nine other companies - in rat-infested dormitories at a construction site near Commonwealth Avenue and Ghim Moh Link.

"MOM has since ordered the accused company to improve the hygiene and living conditions of all its existing construction-site temporary quarters. The accused company has complied with the order," said the ministry.

 

  • 1,450

    Number of housing inspections carried out by the Manpower Ministry in 2015.

    2,300

    Number of errant employers taken to task for housing workers in unapproved premises.

Between March 2014 and September 2015, Kay Lim also did not update online the housing addresses of 20 other foreign workers living in temporary dormitories at a separate construction site in Ang Mo Kio Street 44.

The case has been adjourned to April 18.

Latest figures show that in 2015, MOM conducted over 1,450 housing inspections and took action against 2,300 employers for housing their foreign workers in unapproved premises - up from 718 inspections and action against 1,400 employers the year before.

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations, employers are required to provide acceptable accommodation for their foreign workers that complies with the various statutory requirements, and update the addresses of their foreign workers on the Online Foreign Worker Address Service within five days of a change in their residential address.

Employers who breach the regulations violate the EFMA. If convicted, offenders could be fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to a year, for each offence.

MOM advised foreign workers who have issues with their housing conditions to inform their employers. If their employers do not improve the conditions, workers could get help from the Migrant Workers' Centre on 6536-2692 or report the matter to MOM on 6438-5122.

Members of the public can also inform the authorities of people who breach the Act, or refer foreign workers in distress to the ministry, by calling it or e-mailing mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'Firm charged with housing workers in rat-infested dorms'. Print Edition | Subscribe