Some 38 Chinese nationals congregated outside their former employer's home at Jalan Telang off Upper Thomson Road on Wednesday morning demanding payment for their overtime salary.
With police trying to mediate, they faced off the employer's wife, who tried in vain to turn them away, shouting at them and asking, "Why are you all here? Why are you causing trouble?"
Some of the workers also claimed that she gave them the thumbs-down sign repeatedly, adding that they felt very "insulted".
Their former employer, 35-year-old Yoga Naidu, eventually arrived some three hours later with their overtime salaries, dispensing cash and receipts between 1.15pm and close to 3pm.
He told The New Paper that his meeting with the workers was supposed to be later in the afternoon, at 2pm, at a public area near Bras Basah Complex, and that he did not expect them to turn up in the morning at his home address, which is also listed as his company's address.
Yoga also clarified that he was only distributing overtime payment, with this month's salary to be credited into their accounts early next month. Even then, many claimed they were getting far less than they should.
36-year-old Duan Bo initially refused to accept his payment of about $300.
"I should be getting close to $1,000," he said. "Over the last few months, I've only rested one or two days each."
Upon Yoga's promise that he could be trusted to "settle it", however, the employee reluctantly took the money.
The workers were in Singapore on employment passes, providing cleaning services at hotels for more than a year under T Y Enterprise, a company that, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), is now being charged in court for not dispensing S-pass salaries by Giro. Yoga is the director of operations at the company.
It is also currently under investigation for allegations of falsely inflating their workers' salaries in order to qualify for employment passes, the paper reported.
The workers said they were owed their salary for this month and overtime pay from the past few months.
They were also told to stop working last week to assist in investigations at MOM, although they were not aware what exactly these investigations were.
One of them, 33-year-old Liang Zhi Ying, who worked at the St Regis Hotel since early last year, said she was told one day last week to stop and go to MOM.
"Everything was fine. I didn't know what was the matter," she said. "Honestly, I just want to get my money and go home."
It later emerged that T Y Enterprise has since been placed on a blacklist of firms banned from employing foreign workers.
The MOM also told the paper that it was aware of the dispute between Yoga and the Chinese workers, and explained that he was at the ministry recording his statement from ongoing investigations that morning, making him late for the meeting with the workers.
"This led to the misunderstanding by the workers that the employer refused to settle their salaries," said an MOM spokesperson, adding that it was notified by the police that the dispute had been resolved when Yoga turned up to hand out the overtime payments to the workers.
The spokesperson also said the ministry understands that Yoga will be making final overtime payments to the affected workers on 8 August at MOM.