Singapore

Upper Changi viaduct collapse: NGO faced barriers in meeting affected workers

Upper Changi viaduct collapse: NGO faced barriers in meeting affected workers
The Migrant Workers Centre said that it had faced barriers in trying to meet the affected workers of last week's viaduct accident. Photo: Najeer Yusof
Published: 4:00 AM, July 18, 2017
Updated: 11:03 AM, July 18, 2017

SINGAPORE — It took the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) “a few days” to overcome some obstacles before representatives could meet all of the workers involved in last Friday’s collapse of an uncompleted viaduct along Upper Changi Road East.

In a statement issued last night, Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, chairman of the non-government organisation, said that the delay could have been because this is a “high profile” case and because of the “main contractor’s apprehension about involving an unknown third-party”.

Still, he was “thankful” that the delay “did not cause a slowdown in any of the employers’ legal duties being discharged or in the workers being given access to legal relief or assistance”.

He wanted to emphasise to stakeholders and, in particular, employers that “there is no reason to deliberately exclude the MWC” because the organisation’s only concern is for the workers’ well-being, adding that “genuinely caring employers” would find that it is in their own and their workers’ “best interests” to tap the MWC for help.

For example, its knowledge and experience with employment processes have helped “responsible employers navigate the statutory requirements placed on them, and relieved them of confusion and anxiety”.

In the same statement, Mr Yeo mentioned another fatal accident that also happened last Friday at a worksite in Sembawang.

Chinese national Zheng Cheng Fei, 41, died after falling over the edge of a building at the site.

The MWC contacted Zheng’s employer yesterday, and understands that the company will be filing the work injury compensation claim.

It has also facilitated the process for the worker’s next-of-kin to come to Singapore to escort his remains back home.

Mr Yeo said: “We wish to remind all employers that you are deemed to be solely and fully responsible to pay all medical costs associated with treating your injured workers.

“While the Government makes employers take out mandatory medical insurance before they may hire a migrant worker, this only represents the basic minimum standard of coverage and is often inadequate cover against costs when injury is serious.”