More foreign bosses flee Singapore without paying migrant workers

This article is more than 12 months old

In the past 1½ years, there have been at least six cases involving non-Singaporean employers who absconded without paying foreign workers, according to the Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC).

In each case, more than 20 workers were owed about four months' pay, said MWC chairman Yeo Guat Kwang.

"The non-Singaporean employer has little to lose and runs away when times get difficult... When they return to their home country, it is out of our jurisdiction," Mr Yeo said at a Chinese New Year celebration for foreign bus captains at the Woodlands Westlite dormitory yesterday.

"The authorities should impose controls against (errant employers)... When the employers are non-Singaporean, they can impose travel restrictions on them," he added .

He said most cases occurred in the construction industry. Last year, a Chinese employer owed about 80 workers at least $4,000 each. The Chinese national returned to China without settling the issue.

Later this month, MWC will launch a scheme to help new workers set up bank accounts for electronic payment of salaries and other uses.

This will help workers track salary payments easily and ensure employers pay them on time. Under the law, bosses must comply with workers' requests to be paid electronically.

Construction worker Kazi Arif, 27, said the new changes would help protect migrant workers like himself.

When he arrived here from Bangladesh 10 years ago, he got into a salary dispute with his boss. He got a new job after approaching the authorities for help. - TAN TAM MEI