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147 Companies Warned to Relocate Nearly 2,600 Foreign Workers

25 March 2009 

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), together with the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), conducted two nationwide operations on 16 foreign workers' dormitories on 10 March and 24 March 2009.  The aim is to ensure that these premises comply with regulatory requirements, and that employers abide by Work Permit conditions to provide their workers acceptable accommodation.  

2   A total of 147 companies were issued with warning letters to relocate nearly 2,600 foreign workers to acceptable accommodation over the next few weeks. (See Annex A for more details).

Workers to be Relocated
3   In the first operation, on 10 March, inspectors found more than 1,900 foreign workers housed in eight unapproved dormitories (factory premises in the Woodlands and Tuas, and residential premises in the Serangoon Road area). 

4   83 companies were warned to relocate these foreign workers to approved accommodation.  To expedite the relocation of the foreign workers, employers were required to attend a Change of Accommodation (COA) exercise, facilitated by MOM, where information on purpose built dormitories (PBD) was provided.  By 20 March, more than half of the workers have been relocated to new accommodation that is in compliance with all regulatory requirements.  The remainder are expected to do so within the next week, failing which the work permits will be cancelled.     

5   In the second operation on 24 March, four factories in Sungei Kadut, Tuas, Tech Park and Tagore area, and four residential units in the Serangoon Road area were inspected, all of which were not approved for foreign worker housing.  660 workers from 64 companies will be required to relocate to acceptable accommodation over the next two weeks.   

Employers Responsible For Providing Acceptable Accommodation
6   Mr Aw Kum Cheong, Divisional Director of the Foreign Manpower Management Division, MOM said: “Despite the economic downturn, it is unacceptable that employers house their foreign workers in illegal or unapproved housing to save costs. Housing foreign workers in extremely overcrowded and unhygienic conditions pose a danger to the safety and health of the workers, as well as to public health in general.  They will not be tolerated. Acceptable accommodation is now readily available in purpose-built dormitories and there is no excuse for employers to house their workers in unapproved housing.  All the agencies involved in these two operations will continue to coordinate closely and more operations will be conducted in the future.”

7   Employers are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of their foreign workers, including the provision of acceptable accommodation.  Those who fail to provide acceptable accommodation breach the Work Permit conditions and could face prosecution. They may be fined up to $5,000 or jailed up to 6 months, or both for each infringement.  In addition, the breach will be taken into consideration when the Ministry considers the employer's subsequent applications for Work Permits.


Area

Number of Companies issued with Warning Letters

Estimated Number of Workers involved

Phase One (10 March)

  Factory Converted Dormitory (FCD) at 80 Tuas

23

426

FCD at 14 Woodlands Indus. E1

11

320

FCDs at 16 Tuas and 2 Pioneer Sector Walk

 9

948

12 Flanders Square

12

 39

  4A Starlight Terrace

 2

 21

562 Serangoon Road

18

151

 Jalan Pasawat

 8

12

 Phase Two (24 March)

FCD at 28 Sungei Kadut Way

3

60

FCD at 139 Tuas View Square

15

140

FCD at 54 Techpark Crescent

15

240

FCD at 218 Tagore Lane

12

164

  224C Serangoon Road

1

23

228C Serangoon Road

2

4

24 Joo Avenue

10

19

30 Joo Avenue

6

10

Total

147

2,577