SINGAPORE: The Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) on Sunday (Aug 13) said it would be urging local authorities to take “stern action” against an employer after observing hygiene and safety lapses in workers’ dormitories run by him. 

In a media statement, MWC said it paid a visit to the two facilities at Geylang Lorong 13 and Lorong 17 on Sunday morning after receiving complaints about accommodation and food from several Bangladeshi workers it had been assisting with salary claims.

Signs of bedbug infestation on the walls of a workers’ dormitory in Geylang. (Photo: Migrant Workers’ Centre)

According to the centre, the workers were employed by three related construction companies run by an individual it only described as a Bangladeshi permanent resident.  

Among the discoveries made was that both walk-up apartment units housed more than the maximum eight allowed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. 

Common areas and sleeping quarters at the facilities were “unhygienic and filthy”, with evidence of roach and bedbug infestation, and “no proper bedding was provided” so that many workers slept on the floor as well as in the corridors. 

A power source at a Geylang workers’ dormitory being overloaded with sockets. (Photo: Migrant Workers’ Centre)

Workers also did not have proper storage or laundry and drying facilities, MWC noted, adding that washing facilities were so inadequate there were at least 11 occupants sharing one toilet and one shower compartment. Both of these were “unacceptably filthy”. 

Safety issues were also observed. For example, MWC said there was overuse of electrical points and multi-plug extensions at both dorms. 

COMPLAINTS OF SPOILT FOOD

During its visit to the Lorong 13 dormitory, MWC said it found that meals for all the three companies’ employees were prepared “en masse” on gas stoves, sorted and packed close to where the workers’ slept.  

Workers told the centre there could be as many as 30 of them in the sleeping areas at a time. 

“Alarmingly”, more than 100 packets of food meant for the workers’ lunch and breakfast the next day had already been cooked and packed by the time of the facility visit – at least seven hours before they were supposed to be consumed, said MWC. 

Food at a Geylang workers’ dormitory seen cooked and packed at least seven hours ahead. (Photo: Migrant Workers’ Centre)

It stated: “The workers at both premises told our officers that the employer charges each worker S$130 a month for the catered food, despite the fact that meals were frequently unconsumable due to having gone bad … We find this arrangement unacceptable.” 

MWC said it would forward its observations and documentation to the authorities in the coming days. 

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