SINGAPORE - Five of the 10 foreign workers who earlier this week blocked the entrance of an Ang Mo Kio building over unpaid wages have been paid their salaries by their employer, construction firm Zhengda Corporation, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Shanghai Chong Kee, which is the main contractor that engaged Zhengda Corporation as a subcontractor to carry out renovations to the lobby of the NCS Hub building, also owes several migrant workers their wages, MOM added in a Facebook post on Friday.
It is not known how many workers are owed wages by Shanghai Chong Kee because investigations are ongoing, the ministry said.
In the Facebook post, MOM said: “Both Shanghai Chong Kee and Zhengda Corporation are being investigated for possible offences under the Employment Act.”
The ministry added that MOM and the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) have been helping the 10 migrant workers from Zhengda Corporation who were involved in the incident.
MOM said: “We have assisted all five workers with their salary claims, and Zhengda Corporation has since settled the payments in full.
“We have also verified that the other five workers as well as the rest of Zhengda Corporation’s workforce are not owed salary payments and did not report any well-being concerns thus far.”
Nine men, aged between 28 and 54, blocked the entrance and exit of the NCS Hub building at 5 Ang Mo Kio Street 62 on Tuesday.
A 10th man has since been found to be involved.
In an 18-second video of the incident posted on Tuesday on the Singapore Incidents Facebook group, five of the nine could be seen holding up pieces of paper, printed in Chinese with the company name Shanghai Chong Kee and messages such as “repay debts owed” and “money owed unpaid”.
Shanghai Chong Kee is the main contractor for renovation of the NCS Hub lobby, while Zhengda Corporation was a subcontractor that supplied six workers – four Chinese and two Bangladeshis – from Aug 4 to Sept 27, said Shanghai Chong Kee managing director Harry Tan on Tuesday.
The police received a call for assistance at 5 Ang Mo Kio Street 62 at about 1.50pm on Tuesday.
The nine men complied when told by police officers to stop their protest.
No arrests have been made so far, and the workers have since been assisting with police investigations over the offence of participating in a public assembly without a permit, said the police.
An eyewitness on Tuesday said that one of the men told him the workers were owed three months’ wages.
Staff from non-governmental organisation Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) later visited migrant workers employed by Shanghai Chong Kee who lived at S11 Dormitory @ Punggol on Tuesday evening, after finding out that the company is the main contractor.
“From conversations with 30 migrant workers employed by Shanghai Chong Kee at the dormitory, MWC learnt that many from among those present faced issues relating to their employment, which in some instances required workers affected to use their own personal savings for food and transport expenses,” said MWC and the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees’ Union (Batu) in a joint statement on Wednesday.
“To urgently provide temporary relief until their issues are resolved, MWC immediately sourced a caterer to provide the daily meals of the roughly 200 workers from the company who reside at the S11 Dormitory,” they added.
The organisations also said that MWC would notify MOM of its findings from the visit, and that it is ready to assist the ministry with quickly resolving all outstanding employment issues migrant workers of both Zhengda Corporation and Shanghai Chong Kee face.
“Both MWC and Batu will continue to reach out and follow up with the workers of Zhengda Corporation and Shanghai Chong Kee to check on their well-being, as well as render any assistance they might require.
“In addition, Batu will also reach out to the management of both companies to ensure that workers’ interests are protected.”
The organisations also advised workers facing workplace issues to turn to Batu and MWC for assistance.
National Trades Union Congress members in the built environment industry can contact Batu via its hotline on 6220-1233 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
They can also contact TADM@NTUC on 6213-8008, submit queries at www.ntuc.org.sg/workplaceadvisory or walk into TADM@NTUC at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability in Jurong East.
All workers can submit their queries to TADM at www.tal.sg/tadm or via an appointment, added the organisations.
Meanwhile, migrant workers can contact MWC via its 24-hour helpline on 6536-2692 or e-mail email@example.com