Wan Soon construction company had managed not to pay 400 workers for more then 4 months. How did this happen? Why did the Ministry of Manpower failed to notice this abuse for almost 4 months? What will the Acting Minister for Manpower Mr.NG Eng Hen say today in Parliament?
MOM failed to intervene early to prevent such abuse from happening. Why did the supervisory mechanism fail? Employers are, frequently, sending back foreign workers with just few hundrend dollars when they owned each worker a few thousand dollars.
|The Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (No. 111) adopted in 1958 calls on States to adopt national policies to eliminate discrimination in access to employment, training, and working conditions on the basis of the following: race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction, and/or social origin. Discrimination is defined as distinction, exclusion, or preference based on the above categories. The Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100) of 1951 requires equal pay for men and women for work of equal value. Both are widely ratified.|
17 July 2004: Indian Migrant Workers protest Again
28 June 2004: Think Centre: 200 Indian Workers protest at Indian Embassy
16 July 2004, more then 150 Indian migrant workers again protested peacefully to claim 4 to 6 months salaries owned by their employer. This is the second protest by workers from Wan Soon Construction to claim their salaries amounting to some $4000 to $6000 own to them. On 28 June 2004, the Indian migrant workers had gathered to demand that the Indian High Commission assist them to claim the salary own to them.
According to the Ministry Of Manpower (MOM) terms of a deal negotiated with Wan Soon Constructionon on 25 May 2004 - the company was schedule to pay $600 to each workers. [Wan Soon's insurance company will pay $400, and the contractor's directors will pay $200 for each worker.] The workers are aware that the 118 who accepted the deal were given $400 and send home. The workers are requesting full payment of their salary. Surely, the attempt by MOM to send home the workers with $400 - $600 is not fair. How will MOM ensure that migrant workers receive a fair and just settlement?
According to the labour law: "All salary, other than payment for overtime work, must be paid within 7 days after the end of the salary period. Salary for overtime work must be paid within 14 days after the end of the salary period." Yet Wan Soon construction company had managed not to pay 400 workers for more then 4 months. How did this happen? Why did the Ministry of Manpower failed to notice this abuse for almost 4 months?
What is worrying is that MOM failed to intervene earlier to prevent such abuse from happening. Why did the supervisory mechanism fail? Employers are, frequently, sending back foreign workers with just few hundrend dollars when they owned each worker a few thousand dollars. Is this fair and just?
18 July 2004, Mr.Yeo Guat Kwang, Chairman, NTUC Migrant Workers Forum and MP, Aljunied GRC, told ChannelNewsAsia, "The government, particularly MOM, should seriously consider reviewing the legislation in this area; either we have to see how we can ensure that all the employers will definitely pay the salary to the workers promptly, and if there is any case of delay in salary payment, there should be a mechanism to ensure that the workers at the end of the day should be able to claim all the salary that the employers owe them."
In 2003, about 4,000 grievance reports were make by workers to MOM regarding salary arrears, salaries for work on rest days and other issues. The MOM has assisted 2,070 foreign workers to sucessful claim $3.9 million in unpaid wages.
|The Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 (No. 143), obliges ratifying States to respect the basic human rights of all migrants for employment and to take steps to determine the existence and suppress clandestine movements of migrants for employment and illegal employment of migrants. The Convention also obliges ratifying States to promote genuine equality of treatment in respect of employment and occupation, social security, trade union and cultural rights, and individual collective freedoms of migrants. The Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 (No. 97), applies to migrants for employment.|
The Parliament sitting today [20 July 2004] will hear questions for oral answer by 3 Members of paliament, namely, Mr. Yeo Guat Kwang, Dr Amy Khor Lean Suan and Mdm Halimah Yacob. The questions will be asked to Acting Minister for Manpower Mr. Ng Eng Hen to answer. The questions are listed in the Order Paper of th parliament as follows:
Parliament sitting Order Paper: Questions for oral answer* 20 July 2004
Parliament sitting on Tuesday, 20th July 2004, 1.30 p.m.
*10.Mr Yeo Guat Kwang: To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower
(a) how does his Ministry assist workers, local or migrant, in their claims forunpaid wages, and resolve salary disputes with their respective employers;
(b) whether the current arrangements are effective; and
(c) whether his Ministry will introduce new measures to ensure workers' interests are better protected or to enhance penalties against errant employers.
*11. Dr Amy Khor Lean Suan: To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower
(a) if he will give an update on the assistance that have been rendered to the foreign workers who were not paid salaries by their employer, Wan Soon Construction;
(b) what measures his Ministry is looking at to prevent the problem of firms defaulting on their foreign workers' pay; and
(c) whether measures can be put in place to give his Ministry early warning that foreign workers have not been paid their wages and to take prompt action to help them.
12.Mdm Halimah Yacob: To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower
(a) what measures will be put in place to better secure and protect wages of foreign workers when businesses fail;
(b) will the Ministry consider making it mandatory for companies employing foreign workers in sectors where problems of non-payment of wages are more recurrent to set aside some funds to offset the workers' claims;
(c) will the Ministry consider putting in place an expedited system for processing claims of foreign workers; and
(d) what more can be done to educate foreign workers on their rights and to seek help early before the situation worsens.
Think Centre, sincerely, hopes that NTUC and MOM will negotiate a fair and just settlement for the Indian Migrant Workers.
Think Centre proposes that its timely for Singapore and India to negotiate and sign a MOU on the term of employment of Indian migrant workers with due respect to International labour standards.
Think Centre urge the Indian High Commission to provide a labour officer to deal with Indian migrant workers problems and assist them to overcome their work related difficulties.
Think Centre hopes the Indian High Commission will negotiated with Indian Airlines for "budget tickets" for those workers who want to return home after their claims are settled.
Sources and Relevant Links:
ChannelNewsAsia: NTUC Migrant Workers Forum is against errant employers of foreign workers 18 July 2004
Think Centre: Indian Migrant Workers protest Again 17 July 2004
Think Centre: Think Centre: 200 Indian Workers protest at Indian Embassy 28 June 2004
Parliament sitting Order Paper: Questions for oral answer* 20 July 2004
Singapore Government: EMPLOYMENT OF FOREIGN WORKERS ACT (CHAPTER 91A)
Singapore Government: EMPLOYMENT ACT (CHAPTER 91)
UNESCO: Migrant Workers Convention 1990
Core Labor Standards Toolkit
Elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor
Effective abolition of child labor
Elimination of discrimination in employment
Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining