MOM acts against subcontractor for not paying at least 15 vaccinators, nurses for almost 3 months

NTUC said on Facebook it understands 54 workers from the Bukit Timah Community Club vaccination centre are owed salaries. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two men linked to ambulance provider Singapore Ambulance Association (SAA) will have their work pass privileges suspended for failing to pay at least 15 Covid-19 vaccinators and nurses for almost three months.

The vaccinators and nurses were based at the Bukit Timah Community Club vaccination centre.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) said on Wednesday (Sept 15) they will act against Mr Eugene Tok Yong Fa and SAA director Whey Zhen Hui, as well as their associated businesses and people.

A search of the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) records showed that Mr Tok is the director of the Singapore Emergency Ambulance Services and was director of the now defunct Singapore Emergency Medical Care Training and Services.

An employer who receives a suspension will not be able to employ workers through the work pass system until it is lifted.

MOM and TADM said they are currently investigating Dr Tan Ying Zhou, a former director of SAA. An Acra search showed he ceased to be a director on July 10 and a shareholder on July 11.

TADM had been helping 15 affected vaccinators who filed claims with it and the Small Claims Tribunal since July.

MOM also set a final deadline of last Saturday for SAA to respond on the payments.

"Given that SAA has been uncooperative and persisted in not making payments after more than two months of engagement, TADM and the NTUC have worked behind the scenes to assist the 15 affected vaccinators," the statement read.

Private healthcare provider Parkway Shenton had hired manpower recruitment agency Megamanpower to supply workers for the vaccination efforts till early June this year.

Megamanpower then approached SAA to provide medics and nurses to the centre.

On June 7, several workers engaged through this arrangement received a message in a Telegram chat group from Mr Tok informing them that their contracts with SAA would be terminated the next day.

People getting vaccinated against Covid-19 at the Bukit Timah Community Club vaccination centre in February. At least 15 Covid-19 vaccinators and nurses based at the centre had not been paid for months. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

In July, MOM said it would investigate after it received nine complaints of unpaid wages from people who had worked as vaccinators and nurses.

NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said Parkway Shenton - which runs the vaccination centre - will be providing a "goodwill payment" to the 15 workers who filed claims.

This is despite Parkway Shenton having paid their wages to the subcontractor, noted Mr Ng.

NTUC said on Facebook it understands a total of 54 workers from the vaccination centre are owed salaries.

Mr Ng noted that many of those who filed the claims were students.

He added that Parkway Shenton chief executive Edmund Kwok, together with staff from NTUC and MOM, met some of the affected workers.

"Our young workers have rights too, we urge others who are affected to come forward and approach TADM @ NTUC or MOM, or NTUC's Young NTUC if they need assistance on employment-related matters," he added.

"It has been a difficult time for the vaccinators, who had worked on the front line but were not paid for their services," said MOM and TADM in their statement.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, an SAA spokesman claimed that the company had paid some of the vaccinators.

He added that those who lodged claims with TADM have yet to receive their salaries because MOM did not make a determination as to whether the complainants were employees or contractors.

He said this created an issue as to whether Central Provident Fund requirements applied.

"SAA took the view that TADM was not the appropriate forum for the vaccinators but nonetheless tried to iron out the complications created," said the spokesman.

He said the company remains "committed" to making payment to all contractors, including the complainants.

The spokesman also requested that "other parties" who have been approached to make payment allow SAA to fulfil its obligations instead of "complicating the issue". He did not elaborate if he was referring to Parkway Shenton.

ST has approached Mr Tok for comment.

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