Court orders US firm to pay overdue increments

Court orders US firm to pay overdue increments

SINGAPORE - Thirty-four workers of an American maintenance firm will receive overdue annual increments, after the Industrial Arbitration Court (IAC) ruled in their favour on Thursday.

The Singapore-based First Defense Services is a company that provides maintenance support to the United States Navy.

In 2011, it did not meet the Singapore Industrial and Services Employees' Union (SISEU), the recognised union representing its workers, to negotiate an annual wage increment for the year.

By the end of that year, the matter had been taken to the Manpower Ministry for conciliation - for both sides to reach an agreement.

But the company still refused to pay an increment.

In June last year, the union submitted the case to the IAC.

After meetings before the court's registrar, the firm said it would propose an ex gratia payment to its US headquarters, to settle the annual increment claim. But it later told the union its headquarters had rejected the idea.

On Thursday, however, the IAC decided that the firm had to award the increment for 2011.

The union had initially proposed an increment of 5 per cent, and was prepared to consider a one-off payment of one month's pay, or $2,000 on average. On Thursday, it revised its proposal to an increment of 2.5 per cent plus $50. The court decided on a $50 raise for those earning up to $2,000, and a 2.5 per cent raise for those earning above $2,000.

SISEU executive secretary Sylvia Choo said the union was pleased with the decision and its members have been waiting for it since the firm was set up in 2009. It had not paid an increment in 2010. "They have helped to turn the company around so they deserve the recognition as they are really the pillars of the company."

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