On 14 Nov 2011, officers from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force jointly conducted proactive enforcement checks at the registered addresses of four repatriation companies.
The inspection was aimed at ensuring that repatriation companies comply with the law when carrying out their business. Some examples include Penal Code offences against wrongfully restraining or confining any worker, as well as Employment of Foreign Manpower Act offences related to abetting employers to avoid payment of outstanding salaries or moneys due to the foreign worker.
The inspections are an initiative of the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking-in-Persons1, and were led by MOM and SPF.
Of the four premises inspected, two companies - A Team Services and Ultimate Security Consultants - were found to have ceased operations at their registered addresses. At 1 Aces Repatriation Pte Ltd, four workers, who have been residing at the premises for durations ranging from a few days to two months, did not highlight any employment issues when interviewed. They are allowed to move in and out freely on their own and held their own personal belongings and Work Passes. At UTR Services Pte Ltd, one foreign worker found at the premises said he had not encountered any issues staying there.
While no infringements were detected, the two repatriation companies inspected were reminded to comply with all our laws and to refer workers to MOM, if they have knowledge of outstanding employment issues such as salary disputes or Work Injury Compensation claims. Employers are reminded that they should check with their foreign workers if they have any employment issues and resolve them before repatriating their workers. MOM will not hesitate to take enforcement or administrative action (such as debarment) against any employers who attempt to repatriate or repatriate their foreign workers before their employment issues (e.g. salary, work injury etc) are settled.
Ms Jacqueline Poh, Divisional Director, Workplace Policy & Strategy Division, MOM and Singapore’s inter-agency TIP taskforce co-chair, said, “The Government does not tolerate the wrongful restraint of workers or their forceful repatriation without settling outstanding employment-related claims. When notified of such incidents by members of the public, the workers or NGOs2, we will respond and subsequently investigate both the repatriation companies and the employers who engage them.”
MOM and SPF will ensure that anyone who breaks the law will be taken to task. To ensure perpetrators are held accountable for their actions and workers are rendered assistance as soon as possible, foreign workers who are locked up in repatriation premises should contact the Police by calling 999 to seek assistance.
ISSUED BY THE SINGAPORE INTER-AGENCY TIP TASKFORCE
1 Please see factsheet at Annex A
2 Please see case study at Annex B
Annex A - Singapore Inter-Agency Tip Taskforce
Annex B - Factsheet on Repatriation and Case Study