Thursday 16 May 2013

MOM made 300 inspections on foreign worker housing this year

By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 15 May 2013

THE Ministry of Manpower (MOM) seems to be stepping up efforts against the unacceptable housing of foreign workers, having already made 300 inspections in the first four months of the year.

The figure was revealed in a post on the Ministry's blog yesterday.

That is more than a third of the 865 inspections that were conducted the whole of last year, when the Ministry took action against 1,062 employers.

They were either warned, fined or charged in court.

This year, 428 employers have been taken to task so far.

In yesterday's blog post, senior housing enforcement officer Yusri Mohammed Ali advised the public on how to help alert the authorities.

The public should try to provide specific information, such as the address of the place, a description of living conditions, and the estimated number of workers. They should also try to take a photograph.

Noting that the MOM receives about 20 tip-offs each week, Mr Yusri said: "Detailed information allows us to sieve the various tip-offs, and find out which ones require more immediate attention, and which may be false."

He added: "If we feel strongly about helping affected workers, it is important to understand that more specific information means more timely interventions."

The post related the story of an inspection of five dormitories in the Kaki Bukit Industrial Terrace area earlier this month, the result of a public tip-off.

The inspection found unacceptable conditions in all five, and the employers responsible were told that they could not house any more workers in the premises.

The employers were given notice to move their workers into proper housing within the next two to four weeks, even as the MOM investigates with other government agencies.

Anyone with information on unacceptable housing conditions can e-mail mom_fmmd@mom.

MOM crackdown on bug-infested dorms
Ministry steps up checks on housing violations, takes action against firms
By Eugene Chua, The Straits Times, 31 May 2013

RATS, cockroaches, bed bugs running wild - would you want to live in such abysmal conditions?
Some employers do subject their foreign workers to such living conditions, and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is cracking down on them.

It said yesterday that it conducted around 300 inspections and took action against 428 employers for housing violations in just the first four months of this year. This is almost half of the 1,062 employers who were dealt with in the whole of last year.

Offenders were either warned, offered composition or charged in court. Violators are liable to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or 12 months' imprisonment for each offence.

MOM's latest case involved five companies - Soon Aik Marine Engineering, Soon Aik Offshore, Soon Aik Shipbuilding, Yong Soon Shipbuilding and Yong Soon Marine Engineering.

On Tuesday, they were convicted for failing to provide acceptable accommodation for their foreign workers, as well as failing to update the workers' addresses, and failing to pay salaries on time. They pleaded guilty to 44 charges overall and were fined $80,000 in total.

In addition, the five companies will be barred for an undisclosed duration by the MOM from hiring new foreign workers or renewing the work passes of existing workers.

This is the first prosecution case against housing offences this year.

Inspections conducted on April 12 last year revealed that the premises in Tuas where the companies' foreign workers were living were not authorised for dormitory use.

The dormitory was overcrowded and dirty. Besides overflowing rubbish bins, infestations of rats, cockroaches and bed bugs, and insufficient toilets, there was also no proper emergency exit route.

The companies were ordered to relocate the affected workers to approved accommodation immediately after the inspections.

They were slapped with 218 charges, of which 174 were taken into consideration during sentencing.

MOM says it will continue to clamp down on employment law violations.

The number of inspections to detect violations of the Employment Act, which governs how workers are paid, will be increased tenfold, from around 500 a year to 5,000.

Inspections against housing violations will also be intensified.

Members of the public who have information can alert the ministry by sending details to

All information will be kept strictly confidential.

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