Buried within a press release by the Ministry of Manpower dated 19 June 2014, and titled Computer firm director charged for false declaration of salaries, was a paragraph pertaining to the Woolim case that TWC2 highlighted in earlier articles. The paragraph provides a conclusion to the case, saying:

More recently on 17 June 2014, Woolim Plant Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd was convicted of making false statements to MOM in the applications of 15 work passes for its Bangladeshi workers. The company had declared salaries that were higher than the amounts actually paid to the foreign employees. The company pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined $36,000.

A footnote linked this paragraph to an earlier press related (11 March 2014) titled Woolim charged for falsely declaring 15 foreign workers’ salaries. This had been mentioned in a March 2014 news flash on this’s site.

It is right that the employer should be prosecuted for promising one salary to workers (and declaring thus to MOM on work pass applications) while paying a much lower figure. However, TWC2 notes with gross irony that, in our opinion, MOM did not make sufficient effort to obtain redress for the workers. Our last information from the workers was that through ‘mediation’ efforts by MOM, they were each offered about $2,000 when the arrears were around $9,000 per man. The workers who came to TWC expressed great unhappiness not only that MOM didn’t try harder, but did not, from the outset, recognise that it shouldn’t be a matter of compromise, but a matter of right and wrong.

By ‘saving’ $7,000 per worker through absence of full redress, multiplied by 15 workers, Woolim would have ‘saved’ $105,000. The fine of $36,000 is not commensurate. In any case, it would have certainly been more morally just and right that this $36,000 should be paid to workers rather than to the State.

TWC2 notes that if not for continued pressure from us and other concerned parties, MOM might not have prosecuted Woolim at all. The ministry’s initial position was that that its hands were tied because the men ‘did not want to press charges’, a position that TWC2 argued flew in the face of the obviousness of the facts backed by clear documentation.

For background and earlier articles about the Woolim case, enter ‘Woolim’ in the search box at top right.