TL;DR – The sleeping quarters were “unhygienic and filthy”, with roach and bed-bug infestation.
The Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC), a foreign workers’ advocacy and welfare group backed by MOM, NTUC and employers paid a surprise visit to two dormitories for migrant workers at Geylang Lorong 13 and 17. They found that the workers lived in deplorable conditions.
Can you imagine living with 12 other people in a small apartment? And all of you only have one toilet and one shower compartment, which were unacceptably filthy.
Think that’s still bearable? Ok. What if the common areas and sleeping quarters were unhygienic and filthy, with poor ventilation and circulation? You can still take it? Alright. Let’s throw in some roach and bed bug infestations. Feel your skin crawling already?
Not just that. The electrical points and multi-plug extensions are also overused.
Those are the conditions of the two worker dormitories that MWC visited. How can anyone have the heart to house their workers in such conditions? Well, apparently Mr Shah Jahan of SJH Trading Pte Ltd can. The two dormitories that MWC visited housed his workers.
Unhygienic food handling
The MWC also found that meals for all the 130 workers employed by Mr Shah Jahan were being prepared at one of the workers’ dormitories. By the time the MWC visited the dormitory at midnight on Saturday night, there were already 100 packets of the next day’s breakfast and lunch had already been cooked, packed and sorted away for collection. That means that the food had been prepared more than 12 hours before they were meant to be consumed.
Mr Shah Jahan charge each of his workers $130 per month for the catered food. But the food Mr Shah Jahan provides is clearly frequently unconsumable due to having gone bad.
Claims of not paying salaries
A group of Mr Shah Jahan’s workers also claimed that he owes them thousands of dollars each in salary arrears. One of the workers, Mr Hasan, claimed that Mr Shah Jahan owes him $15,910 in unpaid salary and overtime work.
The case is now before the Employment Claims Tribunals.
These foreign workers have to take hefty loans to be able to pay all the fees needed to come to Singapore to work and that’s why more often than not, foreign workers would rather suffer in silence than call their employers out for ill-treating them.
The MWC urges all migrant workers facing similar unfair treatment or ‘punishment’ from their employers to notify us immediately for assistance and to seek justice. They can contact the centre around the clock via their helpline at 6536-2692. The helpline is operated in all the major migrant worker native languages and for urgent or emergency cases, their officers will endeavour to get to the callers right away.