Construction Company Geocean Enterprises Fined For Trying To Reduce Labour Costs

Space is limited in Singapore due to her small size. This drives up costs of homes making Singapore’s housing comparatively more expensive than areas with more land.

Due to these costs, some unscrupulous companies choose to house migrant workers in cramped and unsanitary conditions to save on their living costs.

A media release by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Tuesday (23 Apr), says that construction firm Genocean Enterprises and its 2 directors are fined a combined amount of $257,000 for housing their workers in an overcrowded illegal dormitory.

Cramped living area

For those who have been through NS, you can remember the limited space allocated to you.

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These workers had it worse.

By squeezing 66 people in 2 shophouses meant for 8 left each worker with a mere 2.57 sqm of space. That’s only marginally larger than a single bed which measures around 0.9 metres by 1.9 metres.

Unsanitary living condition

Their living condition was only made worse by unsanitary conditions.

Workers used string across each other’s beds as clothing lines. This may cause pneumonia if too many pieces of wet clothing are hung in the enclosed space.

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The horrors didn’t end here. URA officers also spotted potential fire hazards as plugs were placed close to beds.

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Even basic amenities like toilets were also in terrible condition.

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Not the only case from Genocean

After URA officers conducted investigations on 2 fires in Geylang, Genocean Enterprises faced scrutiny by authorities.

Company directors Mr Shi Baoyi and Mr Chen Ming had also allowed their company to house workers in other overcrowded properties in 2015 and 2016.

Company & 2 directors fined

As per Singapore’s laws, they were fined a total of $257,000 for their actions.

Mr Shi was fined a total of $137,000 for:

  • Housing workers in poor conditions
  • Converting private housing into a workers’ dormitory
  • Providing false information to the Controller of Work Passes

Mr Chen was fined a total of $60,000 for:

  • Housing workers in poor conditions
  • Converting private housing into a workers’ dormitory

The Company was also fined $60,000 for converting a private housing property into a workers’ dormitory.

They are only estimated to have saved from $27,230 to $84,980 from their offences so from the looks of it, trying to cut corners didn’t work out for them.

Third case in 2019

This case is not isolated to Genocean Enterprises.

Two other companies – Broadley Dormitory Management and Broadley Electrical were convicted for similar offences this year.

MOM has been trying to curb this issue with an app called DormWatch. This app allows workers to report any defects in their living area to their dormitory operator. To ensure that changes are made, MOM is kept informed of all complaints and updates by the operators.

You may not see these workers often. But they are working tirelessly every day building our nation.

To help, you can let MOM know if there are overcrowded or illegal dormitories in your area at 6438 51222 or email them here.

Featured image from MOM & URA via Channel NewsAsia.