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Mr Wang’s case has been thoroughly looked into; all salary payments are in order

  • Lianhe Zaobao (29 September 2009) : Mr Wang's case has been thoroughly looked into; all salary payments are in order 
  • Lianhe Zaobao (24 September 2009) : MOM should do more to protect foreign workers 
  • Lianhe Zaobao (16 September 2009) : A Chinese worker in distress asks for help


Mr Wang's Case has been Thoroughly Looked Into; All Salary Payments are in Order
- Lianhe Zaobao, 29 September 2009

       We refer to the letters by Mr Wang Xian and Mr Ming Ying Shao on the working conditions of foreign workers (ZB, 16 Sep and 24 Sep).

2.   The Ministry has looked into Mr Wang's case. We reviewed Mr Wang's salary payment records, which were maintained by the company. These were found to be in order, except for salary for Aug 09, which was withheld pending confirmation from the tax authority of Mr Wang's income tax liability. The tax authority has completed its assessment. The monies owed to Mr Wang will be remitted to him by 8 Oct 2009.

3.   The salary records show that over a 20 month period, Mr Wang did not receive the full variable payment of $150 on only three occasions. The variable component is paid over and above the worker's contractual entitlements, subject to satisfactory performance. MOM has also interviewed other foreign workers who are currently employed by the company. None of them had highlighted any discrepancies in their salaries and employment conditions.

4.   Workers who face salary arrears should report them to MOM as soon as possible by e-mailing the Ministry at or call our hotline at (65) 6438 5122. MOM would also like to advise employers to provide their employees with salary slips clearly detailing the various salary components, so as to avoid misunderstandings. MOM does conduct surprise checks on companies to ensure compliance with employment regulations. Employees and members of the public with information of employment infringements can similarly contact the Ministry.


MOM should do more to protect foreign workers
- Lianhe Zaobao, 24 September 2009 

With regard to foreign workers issues, I agree with the letter in ZB on 9 Sep by Ms Huang that employers should treat foreign workers with respect and provide them basic welfare.

The company I worked for employed 150 over Malaysians, 60 over Indian nationals and treated them well. Not only do they provide them with proper accommodations, necessities, electrical appliances, refrigerator, kitchen wares and sofa, the company also provided free transportation services. Wages are given out twice a month, on time. When met with cash flow problems, the company took a bank loan instead and has never owed workers' salaries across all levels. The company also rewarded employees who were never late for work, doesn't take MCs and who complied with factory rules and regulations. Even though this was to reward workers for good performance, we did not deduct it indiscriminately.

When I read the letter from Chinese worker, Wang Xian on 18 Sep, I am dismayed to know of such Singaporean employers. Is it a big mistake to be asking for directions from clients, that he had to have $70 deducted from his monthly salary? And for every mistake made, $80 had to be deducted monthly. Aren't such employers who unreasonably deduct workers' salaries be infringing the Employment Act?

My suggestion is that MOM should carry out surprise checks on employment contracts between employers and foreign workers to protect the welfare of these foreign workers.


A Chinese Worker in Distress Asks for Help
- Lianhe Zaobao, 16 September 2009

A 22-year old foreign worker described in a letter to ZB his poor working experience in Singapore. He had signed a contract with his agent in China to work in Singapore. It stated that he would be paid $3.95 per hour of overtime work and double his normal wage on Sundays. The two-year contract will continue if his performance was good. He then came to Singapore to work in a small semi-conductor maintenance factory in Yishun Block 1024. There were five employees – the boss and his wife as well as three workers including himself.

When he reached Singapore, he was given another contract to sign by his employer. This contract states that it is valid for four years, and that it will be renewed if the worker's performance was good. The other conditions in this contract were totally different from the one he had signed with his agent back in China. If he did not sign on this new contract, his employer would send him back to China. He had no choice but to sign it.

He had been suffering at work for the past two years. His employer insulted him at times, and his pay was unduly deducted for various reasons. For example, his pay would be deducted if he had punched the wrong card to clock his work hours.

There was once when a customer complained that the quality of the finished product was not satisfactory and the employer put the blame on the worker. The employer then deducted $40 from his pay. On another instance, the writer had lost his bicycle and had to walk to the office. He was late for 20 minutes, and his employer had deducted $150 from his attendance bonus even though he was not given any attendance bonus for that month.

There was another time when the writer lost his way home from a client's office as he was unfamiliar with the place. He then ran into one of the client's employees and he showed him the way out. His employer saw him and scolded him. His employer even asked him to admit that he was at fault and would deduct $70 from his monthly pay until his contract is up. He felt that the employer was merely finding an excuse to deduct his pay and argued with him. However, he finally relented as he cannot afford to lose his job because of his family's financial status.

On a separate occasion, he did something wrong for a client unintentionally. When he returned to his company, his employer said he would deduct $80 from his pay on a monthly basis. If his performance was good for the subsequent quarters, his employer will raise his pay by $10 every quarter. This was how he had his pay deducted by $150 every month.

He said his employer had told him and the other two workers to stay in the factory. This happened a few months ago, and they are still staying there now.

He said that his work permit will expire on 18 October 2009, so he decided to submit his resignation letter on 9 September 2009. In his letter, he wrote that he faced tremendous pressure working for his employer and asked that he be given his August wages and deposit of $700 (there is also a monthly deduction of $50 from the deposit; the total amount is $700) so that he could go home. He pleaded with his employer again, saying that he really could not stand it anymore. He has not been able to sleep every night and he even dreamt about work at night. He said he is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He said he is scared stiff as his owed wages has accumulated to more than $1,000 for the past two years.

Eventually, his employer said he could leave, but he would not be able to give him his pay (amounting to about $800 in August) and the deposit ($700). He had no choice but to approach MOM for help. He met up with a MOM officer on 14 September. A few days before the appointment, his employer had been instructing him to buy an air ticket to confirm the time and date of his departure. However, his employer still did not give him his wages. On 11 September, his employer made him sign another contract which was similar to the one he had signed with the employer previously. His employer assured him that he would give him a copy of the signed contract and settled his outstanding wages.

After he signed the contract, his employer told him that he could only send him his wages to China after the administrative stuff has been settled.

The MOM officer whom he met on 14 September told him that if his employer has not given him his due wages on the day he was supposed to depart, he should not board the flight and should lodge a complaint with MOM immediately. However, he said that he had not been receiving income for some time already, and had borrowed about $500 from his colleagues. If he does not return to China, he is worried that he would not be able to borrow any money for his living expenses, let alone an air ticket. He had no choice but to oblige his employer's instructions – to return home on 15 September. He now only hopes that his employer will honour his words. He concluded by saying that he had little confidence he would ever see his owed salaries.