The migrant worker who died in the third MRT construction mishap this week likely worked in dire conditions, migrant rights NGO Tenaganita said.
The Bangladeshi worker identified only as Sakiful, 28, who died when a temporary structure collapsed at the Tun Razak Exchange MRT tunnel construction site, is the fifth to die in the project.
Tenaganita said those close to the victim told the NGO that he was working under a “sub-sub-subcontractor”, who will likely get away with the non-compliance with occupational health and safety standards.
“Yes, Sakiful is among other workers under three layers of subcontracted workers.
“Therefore, under such subcontracted system, it is becoming increasingly difficult to take action against the responsible owners, developers and contractors.
“Further to that, many of these workers are also undocumented, hired by subcontractors to complete the project within a certain duration of time, working very long hours for the minimum of wage; cheap labour in slave-like situations,” Tenaganita said in a statement.
Tenaganita said poor work conditions on the sites should not be ignored simply because most of those exposed are migrant workers.
Since the first accident in February 2014, it said, there has been no indication if extra safety measures have been put in place by MRT Corp, which is owned by the Finance Ministry.
Time gov’t act
Tenaganita has been working on a long list of cases where migrant workers had been amputated, paralysed, burned or suffered other severe injuries from construction sites, it said.
“Do we wait till workers die before we take action at all?” it asked.
As such, it said, the Department of Occupation Safety and Health (Dosh) must act against the project owner to stop further accidents, and ensure due compensation is paid to grieving families of victims.
It also urged Dosh to ensure the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 is adhered to for all workers, including migrants, and safety training and policies to be provided in the workers’ home languages.
Section 30 of the Act also states that sites with more than 40 workers must have an occupational safety and health committee, and this must also apply to migrant workers, it said.
It said project developers do not ensure migrant worker representation on the committees, leaving the workers unaware of safety standards.
“A human life is so precious and we must do all that we can to protect it, and not merely think of it as a means to (complete) a project or as a commodity for profit purposes,” it said.