Ramping up efforts to crack down on fare cheats

Mr Gu said the worst part of his plight was having to tell his family back home about his situation.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Frantic that his work permit had suddenly been cancelled five months after he arrived here, construction worker Gu Sheng Zhou called his employer repeatedly one day to demand why.

He got no answers. Instead, the 43-year-old's employer picked him up in his car and dropped him off at a police station.

All had seemed rosy when Mr Gu first arrived from China in July 2014 for a job that promised up to $8 per hour. But when he arrived, his employer demanded $14,000 from him, threatening to deport him if he did not hand over the money.

He only worked for a total of 10 days at the company. The rest of the time, he was told to find his own work and lodging. The worst part, he said, was telling his family about his plight. "What would they think if I didn't even give a reason for not sending money home?"

He has a wife and three children, who are still in school, back home.

After the police referred Mr Gu to the Manpower Ministry, he managed to find a job with another construction firm. But he still shudders when he thinks back on his last employer. "I don't hate him. Hatred can't resolve the problem, but I want him to return the money," he said.

This article was first published on May 15, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.