Photo of outdoor showering area from Ministry of Manpower

A local construction company was fined S$74,000 and banned from hiring foreign workers after it was found to house 26 workers in filthy living conditions.

B-construction pleaded guilty to 11 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act today (Dec 1), and is likely to fold up as it is also banned from renewing the existing work permit of its foreign workers. Singapore’s construction industry is heavily reliant cheap foreign labour to remain competitive.

The foreign worker dormitory at Canberra Crescent was built without approval from the authority and structure safety endorsement from a Professional Engineer. According to the Manpower Ministry, 26 workers from B-construction and another construction company, Hong Xie Long, were housed in temporary workers’ quarter consisting of containers and makeshift zinc huts. There were no toilets or shower area, and workers have to settle for 3 poorly maintained portable toilet cubicles and shower with a hose in open area.

The director in-charge of foreign manpower with the Manpower Ministry commented in the media release:

“Employers must take the well-being of their workers seriously. We will take strong action against employers who house their workers in accommodation that does not have the necessary approval and subject their workers to poor living conditions.”

Following a riot in Little India in 2013 by foreign workers over inhumane living conditions, the government started looking into the welfare of the foreign workers whom they have ignored over the past decade. In 2014, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) conducted 718 housing inspections and found 1,400 employers guilty of similar infringements. In 2015, the problem worsened by more than 50% with 2,300 employers being charged after MOM doubled its inspections to 1,450.