Foreign workers should lodge complaints without delay

What the workers have had to go through, according to the report "Cannot work here, cannot go home" (Aug 13), is painful.

SJH Trading is being investigated for multiple offences and will be prosecuted accordingly.

We urge workers to come forward to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) as early as possible not only to protect themselves but also to prevent their employer from causing further harm to other workers.

As an illustration, the MOM would have taken action against the employer, had the workers come forward immediately with their allegation that the employer had asked them to sign on blank salary vouchers or had threatened them with the cancellation of their work permits.

During the time when claims are being looked into, the law requires the employer to continue to pay for the workers' upkeep and maintenance.

Should the employer fail to do so, the MOM, through the Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC), will step in to provide for their welfare, and punish the employer.

The workers would also have been offered the chance to find other employers and avoid the plight of having to continue working without pay.

Six of the workers came forward to the MOM in July for salary arrears of about three months. Their claims were not disputed by the employer, and the MOM will see to it that their salaries are paid in full this week.

The remaining 19 workers came forward only between June and August, after salary arrears had accumulated for as long as 12 months.

Due to the long delay, these claims were disputed by the employer, and investigations are ongoing.

The report's headline also seemed to suggest that the workers were disallowed from continuing to work in Singapore or prevented from going home. This is untrue.

Once the MOM had established the validity of their claims, the workers were allowed to remain in Singapore till the claims were resolved, or return home. As they chose to remain in Singapore, the MOM referred them to the MWC to assist them with their job search.

Workers with salary or well-being issues should contact the MOM on 6438-5122 or www.mom.gov.sg/eservices

Tan Fang Qun

Director

Joint Operations Division

Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'Foreign workers should lodge complaints without delay'. Print Edition | Subscribe