112 workers get $300k in unpaid wages

112 workers get $300k in unpaid wages

SINGAPORE - A construction company has paid more than $300,000 owed to its workers after it allegedly ran into financial trouble.

Menton Technologies was ordered by the Ministry of Manpower to pay the money to 112 employees - mostly from India and Bangladesh - who were each owed around three months of salary. Each earns between $500 and $1,000 a month.

The ministry launched an investigation last Tuesday after The Straits Times received a tip-off about the situation. The wages were finally paid on Sunday.

Since 2009, Menton had been a sub-contractor of telecommunications firm Ntegrator, one of SingTel's key contractors for OpenNet. It was tasked with laying fibre-optic cables in customers' homes.

Earlier this year, Menton began asking for advanced payments from Ntegrator. Over the next few months, Ntegrator granted Menton about $1.8 million. But this was apparently not enough for the firm to pay its employees.

A representative from Ntegrator told The Straits Times: "We suspected some financial trouble, but we did not know what was really going on because they have no obligation to tell us why they needed the money."

He said Ntegrator granted the advanced payments "out of goodwill" and because the firms had "worked together for so long".

After the Ministry of Manpower confirmed that Menton had owed its employees their salaries, SingTel ordered Ntegrator to take over its operations last Friday.

The Ntegrator representative added that prior to the investigation, SingTel had already been dissatisfied with Menton's performance and its "frequent no-shows". As soon as Ntegrator took over, it gave each employee $100 in advanced payments for their daily necessities.

Menton's managing director, Mr Steven Wee, declined to comment. The ministry is still investigating the case.

Under the Employment Act, it is an offence for bosses not to pay their staff. If convicted, they can be jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to $5,000.

ifarah@sph.com.sg


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