Employee abuse video: Ministry probing software company

Labour relations officers meet worker allegedly hit by supervisor

THE Manpower Ministry (MOM) is investigating the software company at the centre of an alleged employee abuse scandal.

The ministry said in a statement last night that its labour relations officers yesterday met the worker filmed in a video circulated on YouTube which apparently showed him being hit by his supervisor at Encore eServices.

An MOM spokesman said the meeting was to "find out more about his employment terms as well as possible infringements of the Employment Act".

Investigations by the ministry are ongoing.

The 29-year-old university graduate claimed he was paid only $500 a month during a three-year stint at Encore, despite putting in around 12 hours a day.

He also claimed he did not receive leave or bonuses.

The Employment Act covers employees earning a basic monthly salary of no more than $2,000 and ensures that they are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 44 hours a week. They should also be given annual and sick leave.

The alleged abuse came to light in a 17-second video uploaded on YouTube last Friday. It shows a man, identified only as Alan, hitting the head of his subordinate continually and using vulgar language towards him.

The video was filmed by a Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) student who was working as an intern at the company. He asked to terminate his internship after the incident.

Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday that Alan is the owner of Encore, a firm registered under the name of Mr Lee Yew Nam.

The alleged victim told Lianhe Wanbao he was under the impression that he was joining a sizeable company because his supervisor said it had many departments. But he went on to find that Encore's Jurong East office was the size of just three carpark spaces.

He added that the company had no full-time staff and only employed one or two interns.

When The Straits Times visited Encore's one-room office in Jurong East yesterday, it was locked and empty.

Workers in the same building said nobody had turned up for work at the company this week.

A woman at Encore's other office in Lavender denied that Mr Lee worked there.

Universities said they conduct checks on companies offering internships to their students.

SIM, for example, carries out background checks on the firms and meets relevant staff. Its spokesman said this "ensures that we collaborate only with bona fide companies and that we find the right fit for our students".

Companies must sign an agreement with SIM to ensure that the internship experience is productive and beneficial for both parties. Company supervisors must also agree to provide mentors for students and give them meaningful work of educational value.

Those at SIM must submit a 500-word report after completing their internships.

National Trades Union Congress deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How said in a Facebook post yesterday that physical abuse of employees should not be condoned. He said: " I urge the police and the Ministry of Manpower to investigate the case thoroughly, help the victim seek recourse and press for deterrent action against the culprit."



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