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     FrontPage Edition: Sun 16 Oct 2005

Salary dispute resolved with Manpower Ministry's intervention


Salary dispute resolved with MOM¡¯s intervention
The salary arrears and related disputes between the L&M Group of Companies and its workers represented by the Building Construction & Timber Industries Union (BATU) have been resolved with Ministry of Manpower¡¯s (MOM) assistance and all workers have since received their pay.
Facts of the Case
Three companies in L&M Structural Division - L&M Precast, L&M Prestressing and L&M Concrete Specialist - faced great financial difficulties and cashflow problems in the face of the severe business downturn and the sharp increase in material costs in the construction industry in 2001.
The companies were unable to honour the payment of annual wage supplement (AWS) for 2000 in accordance with the collective agreement with the union. They were also unable to pay the salaries of about 300 workers on time.
The workers, represented by the Building Construction & Timber Industries Union (BATU), met many times with the management of the company to negotiate for the payment of AWS and salary arrears.
However, frequent changes to the top management of the companies delayed negotiation of payments. BATU subsequently referred the dispute on the AWS to the Labour Court under MOM.
The Court ordered the company to pay the workers their AWS in accordance with the collective agreement. When the company failed to comply with the judgement, BATU proceeded to enforce the order in the Subordinate Court and successfully secured the AWS payment for the workers.
In Oct 2004, BATU was ready to file the salary claims at the Labour Court. On the issue of salary arrears, BATU and MOM took into consideration the financial difficulties faced by the companies and recognised that, if the companies were to fold up, the workers would be made jobless.
The Ministry met with BATU and the management several times. With the concurrence of the union, the Ministry granted the companies some time to settle the arrears amounting to about $650,000 for 300 workers for 2 months¡¯ of arrears; failing which severe action, including prosecution, would be taken.
The companies cleared the salary arrears and also complied with the requirement of paying workers¡¯ their salaries on time. The Ministry will be monitoring the prompt payment of salaries by the companies to its workers.
Salaries must be paid on time
The Ministry would like to remind all employers that, under the Employment Act, the salary earned by an employee for work done should be paid within 7 days after the salary period.
Employees who have not been paid their salaries should bring the matter to the Ministry¡¯s attention. Union members can do so through their unions while non-union members can approach the Ministry¡¯s Labour Relations Department.
The Ministry will assist the employees to recover their unpaid salary and take necessary actions, including prosecution, against employers.

Source: Press Release 5 Oct 2005

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