Foreign workers' home sweet home
Construction firm provides free Wi-Fi, laundry service and catered meals at dormitory
He used to have sleepless nights at his previous dormitory because of noise. He also had to spend $100 monthly buying phonecards to call home.
Bangladeshi national, Mr M Selim Montaj Ali, 42, a foreign worker hired by Kwan Yong Construction, even had to put up with fights.
Now, at his current dormitory, he has free Wi-Fi, laundry service and three catered meals daily. There have also been no fights.
Yesterday, Kwan Yong Construction was among 11 companies recognised for providing good living conditions for its workers.
At the inaugural Dormitory Awards organised by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) at Suntec City Convention Centre, they were lauded for being factory-converted dormitory (FCD) operators with good management practices.
FCDs are industrial or warehouse developments partially converted into secondary dormitories for workers.
There are more than 1,000 FCD operators here.
Mr Selim said he used to live at Simpang Lodge 2, a purpose-built dormitory in Yishun. It is not owned by Kwan Yong Construction.
He said: "We were all from different companies and countries, and sometimes the tension resulted in fights. It got so noisy that I was unable to sleep and I felt tired the next day."
Two years ago, he moved into the dormitory on a specially built fourth storey of Kwan Yong Construction's office in Joo Koon. It has 19 rooms that can hold eight to 12 people each.
The 150 workers from India and Bangladesh living there have access to free Wi-Fi, a mini-gym, badminton court and volleyball court.
Each room has four fans, three ceiling lights and an exhaust fan. Laundry service, provided daily, is free.
The dormitory cost about $500,000 to build.
Kwan Yong Construction's director, Mr Jacob Wong, said: "Our foreign workers used to live in dormitories all over the island. It was hard to contact them when they fell sick.
"In a week, I would have at least 10 workers not turning up for work. But now, it is easier to monitor their health. I will occasionally have only one or two workers falling ill a week."
Workers are ferried to work in a coach and lights out at 11pm on weekdays ensure they have enough rest.
While MOM regulations stipulated that all FCDs must provide Wi-Fi from Jan 1 this year, it was already in place at Kwan Yong Construction's FCD two years ago.
Mr Wong said: "(With Wi-Fi), they can easily communicate with their family members.
"If not, they might worry about their families and get distracted. That is when accidents at work may happen."
Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck, who gave out the Dormitory Awards, said: "We hope the awards will motivate more FCD operators to adopt industry-wide good practices to raise the overall standards of FCDs."
Dorm life through photos
In conjunction with the Dormitory Awards, a photo competition was organised for about 80,000 foreign workers living in factory-converted dormitories (FCDs).
Held from Nov 9 to Dec 2 last year, the competition was organised by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and its theme was Home Away From Home.
MOM partnered with the Migrant Workers' Centre and the Dormitory Association of Singapore.
Foreign workers who live in FCDs shared their personal experiences through photographs.
The top three winners, Mr Rubel from Super Galvanising, Mr Myo Min Oo from Facility Link and Mr Ali Hasan from Futar Enterprises received shopping and meal vouchers.
All 10 winning entries were exhibited at the awards ceremony yesterday at Suntec City Convention Centre.
The entries were compiled into a commemorative book and distributed to participants at the event.
Dormitory Awards winners
The Dormitory Awards is organised by the Ministry of Manpower, in partnership with the Dormitory Association of Singaporeand the Migrant Workers' Centre.
Here are the 11 winners:
- Active Fire Protection Systems
- Hai Leck Holdings
- Jackly Engineering
- Kwan Yong Construction
- Quek & Quek Civil Engineering
- Straits Construction Singapore
- Super Galvanising
- Tong Shing Contractors
- UTOC Engineering
- Utracon Corporation