MOM probing construction firm for multiple offences

Some foreign workers of the company, registered in the name of two Bangladesh nationals, described their plight to The Sunday Times last week. They also showed its reporters their dormitory in Geylang. There was overcrowding and living conditions wer
Some foreign workers of the company, registered in the name of two Bangladesh nationals, described their plight to The Sunday Times last week. They also showed its reporters their dormitory in Geylang. There was overcrowding and living conditions were filthy.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Foreign workers allegedly not paid and not given proper housing; company 'will be prosecuted accordingly'

A Singapore construction company is being investigated by the authorities for "multiple offences", including failing to pay its workers and not giving them proper housing.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced its move against SJH Trading yesterday.

Last week, some foreign workers of the company, registered in the name of two Bangladesh nationals, had described their plight to The Sunday Times. They also showed its reporters their dormitory in Geylang. There was overcrowding and living conditions were filthy.

Commenting on the case in a letter to The Straits Times Forum page, the ministry said: "What the workers have had to go through is painful".

Mr Tan Fang Qun, director of its Joint Operations Division, also said in the letter published today that they should have reported their situation to MOM earlier.

"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," Mr Tan said.

 

Last week, eight out of 25 workers told The Sunday Times their employer had underpaid them and falsified their pay slips. They alleged that the employer had forced them to stamp their fingerprints in ink on blank salary vouchers, and those who refused were threatened with cancellation of their work permits and told they would be sent home.

They also alleged that the employer used the salary vouchers as proof they were paid $1,600 a month when, in reality, they were paid much less.

MOM said in its letter that SJH Trading is being investigated for multiple offences and "will be prosecuted accordingly".

Mr Tan also said six of the 25 workers have had their complaints resolved because they were owed three months' pay when they sought help. The remaining 19 had delayed filing their claims by up to a year, he noted, adding: "Due to the long delay, these claims were disputed by the employer, and investigations are ongoing."

SJH Trading was registered in 2015 in the name of two persons, according to public records. They are Mr M. A. Ahmed, who lives in Dhaka, and Ms Sumaya Jahan, who lives in an HDB flat in Woodlands.

Mr Md Shahjahan Khan, 53, a Bangladesh national with permanent residency here, had reportedly said he is its manager, his wife Lutfor Nahar is its director, and Ms Jahan is his daughter.

Mr Khan could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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Correction note: In our earlier story, we had said that MOM declined to comment on the case last week. This is incorrect. MOM had commented on it in a letter to The Straits Times Forum page. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'MOM probing construction firm for multiple offences'. Print Edition | Subscribe