Two construction companies fined for providing false info, unsafe housing

Workers living on the mezzanine level with unstable plywood flooring, which compromised workers’ safety and well-being.
Workers living on the mezzanine level with unstable plywood flooring, which compromised workers’ safety and well-being.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER
Workers had to live in premises which were not approved to be used as a foreign worker dormitory.
Workers had to live in premises which were not approved to be used as a foreign worker dormitory.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER
Workers endured poor living conditions which were dusty and unsafe.
Workers endured poor living conditions which were dusty and unsafe.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER

SINGAPORE - Two construction companies were fined a total of $180,000 on Friday (March 4) for giving false information to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), and housing foreign workers in poor and unsafe conditions.

Sing Solid Surface and 3S Solid Surface - both of which share the same director - housed 24 foreign workers in their factory premises, which they illegally converted to a dormitory.

However, between July 2007 and June 2014, they told MOM the workers were residing elsewhere.

Checks by the authorities showed that these makeshift premises were dirty, lacked proper sanitary facilities, and unsafe.

It did not have a proper fire escape route, and the plywood flooring in the area where the workers slept was unstable.

"In addition to the poor living condition of the premises, the factory severely lacked sanitary and showering facilities,"said MOM in a statement on Friday.

"There were only two toilets to be shared between 41 workers, and workers took their showers in the open."

In addition to the 24 workers mentioned above, the companies also housed 17 other workers in the premises between November 2012 and July 2014.

The companies pleaded guilty to a total of 18 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

On top of the fine, the companies have been prohibited from hiring foreign workers, and not be able to renew the passes of existing workers.

Commenting on the case, Ms Jeanette Har, who is director of well-being at MOM's foreign manpower management division, said: "MOM has stepped up housing inspections and will take action against employers who show scant regard for the health, safety, and well-being of their workers."