Foreign worker sleeps on the street for 2 days after dispute with boss


A foreign worker claimed that after he resigned, his company suddenly arranged a change of his accommodation. But when he got to the so-called address of his accommodation, he found that it was a temple.

Left with nowhere to go, the foreign worker had to sleep on the street for two nights. “Isn’t this making things difficult for me?” said the foreign worker.

According to a reader of Shin Min Daily News, a foreign worker was sleeping under Block 137 Lorong Ah Soo in Hougang over the weekend. The reader shared that the foreign worker was forced to sleep on the street due to an accommodation arrangement issue the worker had with his company.

When the reporter visited the scene on 7 May (Sunday), the reporter found the foreign worker Chen You Hong (46 years old) lying on the bench under the HDB flat along with his belongings.

When interviewed by the reporter, Chen told the reporter that he decided to leave his job due to unstable income, and upon his resignation, he was told to move from the foreign worker dormitory in Choa Chu Kang to the Hougang dormitory by his boss.

“I asked if the move was necessary. My boss said it was the company’s policy and asked me to move either on 3 May or 5 May. He also said that the company would arrange a bus to take me there,” he added.

But Chen was worried that something would go wrong, and he was afraid that he would be taken to the airport and forced to go back to China, so he decided to go to the said location on his own on the 6 May. To his horror, he could not find the dormitory at the address given by the boss.

“I only saw a temple when I arrived at the address, and I didn’t see the dormitory at all!” he said.

He also said that he tried to contact the dormitory manager later, but the other party did not answer the phone. It was not until he called the police that the police found the dormitory manager.

The dormitory manager then told him that he could not enter the dormitory on weekends. Later, Chen discovered that the dormitory was located on the fenced-off construction site opposite the temple.

“The manager told me that the dormitory is closed on weekends. They gave me the address of the dormitory but didn’t let me in. Isn’t that making things difficult for me?” said Chen.

The reporter spoke to the dormitory manager known as Mr Lee in an interview, who said that he was having dinner with friends at the time, so he didn’t answer the call from Chen. Later, when the police called, he then found out that Chen could not enter the dormitory.

He explained: “We originally arranged for him to check in on Wednesday (3 May) or Friday (5 May), but he chose to go on Saturday and missed the check-in time. We are also renting the dormitory from other people. The dormitory administrator was not there on weekends, so we couldn’t open the door to let him in.”

As a result, Chen had to sleep at the void deck.

Worker claimed his salary was reduced by half while boss said he was paid according to his contract

The foreign worker claimed that his salary for the month of April was cut by 50%, but his boss refuted that he was paid according to what was stated in his contract.

Chen told the reporter that after he told his boss that he wanted to quit, his salary for the month of April was deducted by more than half. He said that the original salary was $11 per hour, but the boss informed him that the salary in April was changed to $7.50 per hour.

After offsetting other expenses and his accommodation fee, his original salary of $1,300 for the month of April was reduced to $515.

“The $11 is the verbal promise from the boss. I think the boss reduced the amount after I said I want to quit,” he said.

However, according to his boss Mr Guo, the worker was paid according to his contract. He also shared that Chen had once complained to him about the hard work, that his supervisor was not nice to him, and he had also fought on the construction site.

In response to the boss’s accusation, Chen said that the fight happened several years ago.

Finally checked into the dormitory

After all the twists and turns, the foreign worker finally checked in successfully into the dormitory on Monday morning (8 May).

Chen told the reporter that when he wanted to enter the dormitory on Monday morning, the dormitory administrator said that his name was not in the system, and he was denied entry.

Later when the reporter contacted the dormitory manager, the manager told the reporter that Chen should be able to enter the dormitory. And with the help of the report, eventually, Chen was able to check in to the dormitory. Chen then thanked Shin Min Daily News for help.

Chen, who is from Hefei, the capital city of the Anhui province, said he first came to work in Singapore in 2008. He has been working in Singapore intermittently, while his wife and 17-year-old son stayed in China. Now he is waiting for his boss to pay the rest of his salary before returning home.

Residents offered concerns and food

According to Zaobao, residents staying in the block couldn’t bear to see the foreign worker sleeping, they showed concern and also offered him food.

The reporter returned to the block again at 8pm on Sunday night and saw some residents showing their concerns about Chen’s situation. Chen also showed the reporter the food offered to him by residents which include oranges, drinks, and water.

Mdm Liu, a resident, said in an interview that she specially bought dinner for Chen and asked him if he needed to charge his mobile phone, “I bought food and water for him, and told him that he can go to the coffee shop nearby to freshen up. But he told us not to worry, and said that there are people nearby who can help charge the phone.”

Mdm Liu said that it was pouring on Saturday night. Her husband was worried about him, so he took some clothes for him to change, but Chen refused.

“He travelled so far here alone to work, and now he needs to sleep on the street. We thought we should help him,” she said.

Chen said that currently, he can still cope with the food expenses, and he is especially grateful to the residents for their help.

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