80 breaches found at purpose-built dorms annually in past 3 years | June 04, 2020 5:00 AMAbout 80 breaches have been found every year - over the past three years - at purpose-built dormitories, although the majority we

80 breaches found at purpose-built dorms annually in past 3 years

80 breaches found at purpose-built dorms annually in past 3 years

80 breaches found at purpose-built dorms annually in past 3 years

80 breaches found at purpose-built dorms annually in past 3 years

80 breaches found at purpose-built dorms annually in past 3 years

80 breaches found at purpose-built dorms annually in past 3 years
80 breaches found at purpose-built dorms annually in past 3 years
  • By: straitstimes.com
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About 80 breaches have been found every year - over the past three years - at purpose-built dormitories, although the majority were for minor lapses, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) yesterday.

Such minor lapses - which account for 60 per cent of the breaches - include failing to maintain tidiness and cleanliness in one part of the dorm, said an MOM spokesman in response to media queries.

The figures indicate that some operators committed multiple offences. Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said in Parliament on May 4 that about 20 purpose-built dorms breach licensing conditions each year.

There are 43 dorms here licensed under the Foreign Employee Dormitories Act (Feda) and each can house 1,000 workers or more.

The MOM spokesman said: "As MOM takes action even for minor breaches, it should not be surprising that slightly under half of the entities have previously breached a licensing condition."

The living conditions of foreign workers have been in the spotlight in recent weeks, with dorm residents making up more than 90 per cent of Covid-19 cases in Singapore.

In addition, 150 fire safety infringements were found during inspections by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) at purpose-built and factory-converted dorms in the past three years, said an SCDF spokesman in response to queries by The Straits Times.

Of the infringements, 143 resulted in composition fines. Seven were deemed serious, such as unauthorised fire safety works involving the erection of partition walls, and resulted in court action.

Joint inspections are conducted at purpose-built dorms by the SCDF and other regulatory agencies, such as MOM and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, before the MOM issues or renews their licences.

SCDF also inspects dorms when it receives feedback about fire safety infringements, such as blocked exits and non-maintenance of fire safety equipment.

Officers check for a range of offences, including unauthorised works like creating additional sleeping quarters in dorms.

The MOM spokesman said that if there are breaches observed across the dorm, or if these are repeated, operators can be fined up to $50,000.

"In egregious cases where the operator has shown a blatant disregard for the welfare of their residents, we prosecute the operator. One such case was recently concluded in the courts where the operator has pleaded guilty."

MOM did not name this operator, but it was reported in March that two men and the company they work for, Labourtel Management Corporation, were the first to be convicted under Feda after some rooms were found to be filthy.

MOM said that in all cases, employers and operators are asked to rectify lapses and follow-up inspections ensure this.

Employers who choose to house their workers on their own also have the accommodation inspected. In the last three years, MOM has taken action against an average of 1,200 employers a year for failing to ensure acceptable accommodation for their workers.

The most common offence, said the spokesman, relates to housing workers in overcrowded units or in unsanitary conditions.

"In addition to imposing a fine of up to $20,000 on these employers, MOM will withdraw their work pass privileges and bar them from hiring foreign workers."



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