30 January 2012

Six pushcart peddlers arrested at Tampines Central

30 January 2012

Pushcart stalls are a common sight at heartland malls and bus interchanges. Earlier this month, an enforcement team from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) went down to inspect 11 of these stalls selling clothes and accessories at Tampines Central.

The officers arrived on location incognito. First, they ensured that the area was secured before donning their MOM vests and starting inspections. Taking care not to cause unnecessary disruption or alarm, the officers carried out their work and it was business as usual for the surrounding stalls.

MOM officers in action: checking through pushcarts at Tampines
MOM officers verifying work passes and documents of workers at the pushcart stalls

MOM officers recording statement from a pushcart stall helper
Six foreigners working at five pushcarts were arrested for offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) such as illegal employment, illegal deployment and breach of work pass conditions. They were Social Visit Pass (SVP) and Dependant’s Pass holders, who are generally not allowed to work in Singapore.

A SVP holder who was arrested came from Malaysia to Singapore for a holiday and to meet her boyfriend, but agreed to ‘help’ her friend sell clothes at the pushcart stall for three days. Although she knew that it was an offence to work without a valid work pass, she did not think she would get into trouble. Another illegal worker arrested was a Work Permit (WP) holder who was supposed to be employed in the manufacturing sector. MOM officers found that the WP holder’s employer had in fact illegally deployed all her foreign workers to work as sales staff at various pushcarts and retail stores. The employer is currently being investigated for breaching Work Permit conditions.

MOM officers interviewing a worker suspected of illegal deployment
MOM officers bringing back the arrested worker for investigations
All persons, whether employers or foreign workers who are convicted for illegal employment or deployment, can be fined up to $15,000 or jailed up to 12 months or both. MOM may also debar errant employers from hiring more foreign workers.

In 2010, MOM prosecuted 108 employers for illegal employment/deployment offences and arrested 1,038 foreigners for not working on valid work passes. For 2011[1], MOM prosecuted 68 employers and arrested 1,101 foreigners for the respective offences as abovementioned.

MOM will continue to step up its proactive checks and enforcement against employers and foreigners who circumvent the Work Pass framework. If you have any tip-offs on such infringements, you can email – all tip-offs will be kept strictly confidential. Play your part to help us keep illegal workers off the streets of Singapore.

[1] Year 2011’s figures are correct as of 18 January 2012.
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