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One bath for 200 men: Singapore firm fined for mistreating foreign workers

A construction company in Singapore has been convicted and fined for cramming more than 200 foreign workers into a makeshift accommodation described as "filthy" and unsafe.

Keong Hong Construction Pte. Ltd. was ordered to pay S$352,500 (US$264,000) in the State Courts on 24 May after pleading guilty to 47 of 207 charges brought by the city state’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

In March inspectors found 207 workers crammed into 31 makeshift rooms constructed with zinc and plywood that fell foul of fire safety regulations.

The temporary quarters had been approved for only 187 workers.

Keong Hong was also found guilty of letting 17 other employers house their foreign workers in the same place.

Beds had to double as laundry racks and bulk food stores, creating a fire hazard

MOM said the overcrowded conditions exacerbated the poor ventilation and inadequate lighting. MOM described the rooms as "untidy and filthy" in an annex with photographs.

There was only one communal bath for the workers and inadequate toilet facilities.

Beds had to double as laundry racks and bulk food stores, creating a fire hazard.

"Although we have seen an improvement in the foreign worker housing landscape, there continues to be employers and operators who have little regard for workers’ safety and well-being," said Jeanette Har, director of well-being at MOM’s Foreign Manpower Management Division.

"MOM will take stern action against those who fall short of their legal responsibilities towards their foreign workers."

Photographs courtesy of Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower

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