Raids on dormitories reveal horrors: Migrant Workers Centre

The Migrant Worker’s Centre (an outfit of the NTUC) is launching a series of raids and here’s what they found recently:

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50 migrant workers cramped into the space of two two-bedroom condominium apartment. The workers were mostly from Bangladesh and India.

How did they sleep? Side by side on wooden boards and even outside the apartments, on the corridor. Rotten food, clothes which have not been washed for days and plastic bags of rubbish laid around.

The walls were a shade of brown and the air was overpowering and dense. One of the workers made a complaint to the MWC calling for assistance.

MWC executive director Bernard Menon said: “Our staff who answered the call sensed that there was an urgent need to look into the case. Our chairman, Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, directed us to do a spot check later in the night.”

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(Bernard Menon of the Migrant Worker’s Centre)

Not only that, but the hiring company Harri Construction & Maintenance, have also not been paid for several months already.

Another raid by the MWC to a hut lying in Geylang Lorong 8 revealed more horrors. It looked like it was hastily set up. The hut was hidden at the back of an apartment building.

16 foreign workers hired by Harri Construction & Maintenance lived inside the hut.

The men said that they are Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass holders but when asked how much they were being paid, they said $900.

S Passes are given to workers earning at least $2,200 and for E Passes, they are for workers earning at least $3,300.

“My agent promised me a salary of $4,800 a month. But I get only $900 and my boss hasn’t paid me for many months. I have been cheated,” a worker also told local media.

However, the irresponsible company which has hired the workers has denied ill-treating its workers and all claims against them.

Harri Construction & Maintenance manager Nallusamy Narayanan blamed the workers instead. He said that he wanted to give the workers only one day off a week to rest and said that they wanted three instead.

He also said that the workers were the ones who chose to live in the dilapidated conditions.

“I want them to stay in proper dormitories. But they want to stay in Selegie because it is near Little India. They like Geylang, because you know, there are girls there and they can drink.”

“They were living in a shophouse in Tanjong Katong but they drank and caused trouble for residents. So I moved them to Selegie for a few days only.”

If Harri Construction & Maintenance is found guilty, the employers can be fined up to $10,000, and/or jailed for up to 12 months.

 

 

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Samantha Wong

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