When a Company Folds, Who Suffers?

In August, a group of workers from Yong Yi Lin Construction (2000) Pte Ltd had a dispute with their employer over delayed remuneration and went to MOM to seek recourse. To their horror, they discovered that their work permits had actually been cancelled a month earlier and so they had been working "illegally" for the past month. Yong Yi Lin Construction had not been paying their work levies for three consecutive months, leading to an early termination of their work permits by MOM.

The employer had kept the workers in the dark. Instead of announcing the cancellation of their work permits, they ordered them to continue working, even though they could no longer pay them. Ironically, it was the workers who suffered the consequences when it was the employer who broke the law; the workers were left to languish here while awaiting resolution to their salary disputes.

It soon dawned on the workers that their company was going to go bust. Most of them were still owed over two months' salaries ranging from about $2,000 to $4,000. For some of them, they were also owed their ya jin, commonly known in contracts as "security deposits" illegally deducted from their salaries. This sum of money, which amounted to $1,000, was to be returned to them at the end of their work stint here.

The parent company, Jing Yi Construction, was eventually pressured by the authorities to provide remuneration up to July. The insurance, which was to provide coverage in the event of a company's closure, returned each worker a sum ranging from $500 to $800 - a meager fraction of the amount owed.

It might seem that their cases were resolved quickly, but one would not be wrong to question whether the workers have been justly treated and their cases fairly resolved.

The investigation and conciliation sessions with MOM took about a month. More than 40 workers were affected, 23 of whom asked HealthServe for help in appealing to MOM for their salaries or for food to tide them over a difficult time. 

-Jevon Ng