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MOM’s response to TWC2 article: Boss agrees he didn’t pay salary… and then continues not to pay

Another TWC2 article has falsely accused MOM and TADM of not assisting three foreign workers – Alam, Mintu and Hassan - with their salary and work injury claims. TWC2 relied on falsehoods in the case details to claim that there is “weakness” in MOM enforcement efforts. These are baseless allegations which we categorically refute.

Claim #1: MOM seen as “washing its hands off the matter” by directing Alam and Mintu to obtain a Writ of Seizure and Sale (WSS) on their own for their salary claims

Fact: The claim is false. TADM and Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) proactively helped Alam and Mintu with their WSS claims. MWC briefed Alam and Mintu on the WSS procedures and was even prepared to pay for the WSS procedures on their behalf. However, both of them decided not to pursue the WSS option.

Claim #2: MOM’s enforcement efforts are weak; employers rarely face consequences for failing to pay salaries

Fact: MOM takes strong enforcement actions against willful employers who do not pay their workers’ salaries. Between 2016 and 2018, 151 employers were prosecuted for offences under the Employment Act. MOM does not intend to criminalise all such cases, especially in cases where employers cannot pay owing to business failures. In this case, the company was facing financial difficulties. As the company partially repaid the salaries despite its situation and was cooperative during investigations, the company was issued with a stern warning and debarred from employing foreign workers.

Claim #3: “No happy ending”; the article suggests that the workers did not recover any salaries from the employer

Fact: It is untrue that the workers did not recover any salaries. Through MOM’s active intervention the employer partially repaid $4,000 each to Alam and Mintu even though he was facing financial difficulties. MWC also came forward to offer an additional $4,000 in ex-gratia payout through the Migrant Workers’ Assistance Fund. Having each received $8,000, the workers withdrew their claims and returned home in January 2019.

MOM has repeatedly advised workers to come forward early to prevent their salary arrears from snowballing. This will increase the likelihood of them recovering their salary arrears in full.

Claim #4: MOM is not going to take Hassan’s employer to task for non-insurance and there is no one to pay the work injury compensation

Fact: Both claims are untrue. MOM had informed TWC2 in December 2018 that we were investigating the employer for failing to compensate Hassan. In fact MOM is in the process of prosecuting the employer for non-insurance and non-payment of compensation under the Work Injury Compensation Act.

MOM also worked closely with Hassan’s lawyer to enforce the order at the state courts. When the execution of the WSS was not successful in February this year, MOM advised Hassan to apply for assistance under the Workers’ Fund. However, Hassan’s lawyer updated that he had reached an agreement with the employer to settle the compensation through installments. When Hassan’s employer subsequently defaulted on the payments and went uncontactable, Hassan initially wanted to pursue his claim under the common law but later decided against it. In March 2019, Hassan applied for assistance under the Workers’ fund and was successful in his application.

TWC2 continues to publish articles asserting falsehoods, in order to support its advocacy agenda. This is despite the existence of a channel for TWC2 to check with MOM on case details.
Any responsible organisation that posts information in the public domain would take reasonable steps to check the truthfulness of the information they publish. TWC2 has demonstrated yet again that they either do not have the capacity to verify facts before publishing, or that they willfully refuse to do so.