MOM cracks down on 600 employers for foreign workers’ housing violations

November 12, 201410:42 am958 views
MOM cracks down on 600 employers for foreign workers’ housing violations
MOM cracks down on 600 employers for foreign workers' housing violations

SINGAPORE: In the first half of 2014, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) conducted about 360 inspections and took action against 600 employers for housing violations. MOM announced this on Tuesday (Nov 11) following a surprise inspection of two foreign worker dormitories in Joo Koon on Monday night.

The first inspection was at a factory-turned-dormitory with about 100 beds at Joo Koon Road. It is one of the few dormitories which has air-conditioned rooms. Even with 12 beds in one room, it appeared spacious.

Mr Vivek Preasanna, a storekeeper from India, gave it the thumbs-up. “This dorm has all air-conditioned rooms, and we are all working in the same area. It is very comfortable, working here now.” He added that he saves an hour’s travelling time going to work.

The dormitory is run by a construction company and a spokesperson said the firm prefers to house its own workers, rather than putting them up in larger Purpose-Built Dormitories. “Transport-wise, it is very convenient as well, having workers consolidated under one roof,” said Ms Michelle Chua, administrative manager for Land Equipment.

Officers also inspected another dorm 100 metres away, at Joo Koon Circle. It is larger, with about 500 beds and while the rooms were a little messy, residents have access to facilities such as a gym, a cooking corner, a laundry room, large TV area and even free Wi-Fi.

MOM on Tuesday said it found both sites “acceptable” and “decent”, with sufficient ventilation and ample sanitary facilities. Both are relatively new. The first dorm had opened six months ago, while the latter threw open its doors two months ago. Authorities said these are clear examples that smaller dorms can provide good housing, so long as they comply with regulations.

“Housing standards have progressively improved over the years and there are a range of conditions in dorms. As we have seen today, not all factory-converted dorms are poor. We also see how the operators have gone beyond basic living standards to provide extra facilities,” said Ms Penny Elaine Yapp, the Deputy Director of Well-Being for Foreign Manpower Management at the Manpower Ministry (MOM).

RULES APPLY TO SMALLER DORMS TOO

About 192,000 foreign workers are housed in smaller dormitories – including those situated within work sites. A recently proposed Foreign Employee Dormitories will only apply to dorms with 1,000 or more beds, however smaller dorms will still have to comply with rules that stipulate standards for living space and sanitary facilities.

“We do note that there are dorms with poor living conditions today. These are the result of irresponsible operators or employers who fail to comply with existing regulations because they wish to cut costs. The Government will step up enforcement action and will not hesitate to take action against errant parties,” said Ms Yapp.

MOM also said in a press release that it would continue to work with partner agencies such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the National Environment Agency and Singapore Civil Defence Force to ensure dorm operators and employers comply with housing rules.

Both the Migrant Workers’ Centre and the Dormitory Association of Singapore have said that the proposed new bill should be applied to all dorms, no matter what their size.

 

news source & image credit: channelnewsasia.com

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