By Terry Xu
The Real Singapore (TRS) strikes again with yet another “sensational expose” (source). This time, they published an article from a contributor named, Vettel, decrying the exploitation of foreign workers by the local company, Twelve Cupcakes.
In the article published on 25th November, the contributor writes,
I believe many Singaporeans would be aware of this brand call “12 Cupcakes” in Singapore. Spanning over Asia like Malaysia, Taiwan and now, setting up in Hong Kong (based on Daniel Ong’s Twitter), the “local brand” cakery is making its presence felt with at least 12 outlets around the island. Business is brisk and there is always a shortage of working staff (based on their advertisement in hiring workers). However, recently, I visited a few of their outlets in town and spoken with some staff and realized that many of them are being exploited.
In the article, it is said that the contributor has interviewed the supervisors of the outlets and gained insider information of how the company exploits their workers.
The article writes that the company’s working hours are ;
- 12 hours a day, 6 days a week with 1 day off for a full time foreigner.
- 8 hours a day, 5.5 days a week with 1.5 days off for a full time local.
and highlighted other issues with the company’s employment policies.
- Some of the baking staff have to shuttle between 2 outlets during working hours.
- Baking staff paid below a $1000.00 from the accounts of a certain PRC baker.
- Kitchen staff who are foreigner are earning around $850.00.
- Summarized that the foreign workers are earning $3 an hour based on the above working hours and pay.
TRS wrote in the footnote of the article which was published at 10.52am,
This article has been forwarded to TAFEP and Twelve Cupcakes for clarifications. No response as of yet. Anyway, we doubt they are doing anything illegal. Unlike other Developed Nations, Singapore does not have any functional worker’s union (NTUC is not a Worker’s Union) or minimum wage laws to protect the rights of workers.
So CEO of Twelve Cupcakes, Daniel Ong wrote in reply back to TRS at 6pm, 25 November,
You write us a message at 9am in the morning , and say you will publish this at night if we don’t revert. We see that you go against your word and publish it at 10am… Without finding out the facts.You do so without finding out the REAL truth, and also not finding out whether your info is right or wrong. It’s pretty obvious from your lack of research that you don’t care about right or wrong, you just care about sensationalizing a story. But I guess as people who run such a website , you don’t really care about credibility to what you wrote as long as you have readership. (Full message by Daniel Ong)
In his message to TRS, he clarifies a few points.
- Workers do not work 12 hours a day. They work for 11 hours a day. 1.5 hours of break together with 9.5 hours of work they do everyday.
- Workers are paid OT for the extra hours they work as stipulated in written contracts with them once past the 44 hour mark in accordance to guidelines by Ministry of Manpower
- Twelve cupcakes’s foreign work force accounts for less than 10% of its workforce.
- Most work in a kitchen is usually done in half a day, leaving a lot of time for downtime.
While Daniel maintains that he was only informed about the mail at 9 am and was not given the time to reply before TRS’s publication but TRS insisted that they have sent a mail the day to ask for his reply. So who is right in this case?
On 25th November, 9.05am, TRS sent an email to Daniel to ask for a clarification on the article which they received.
And though they have stated that they would publish the article on the night of email, which would reasonably be placed at about 6 or 7pm. TRS went ahead and post the article without clarifications at 10.52am.
Well, TRS might have already check over the details to be certain that the article contributor who have sent them the allegation is a real person, and that the details are legitimate, didn’t they? And didn’t they also say that they have sent an email to Daniel the day before?
Looking at the email thread which Daniel forwarded to us, we can see that the article contribution was submitted to them at 8.57am on the SAME day.
Barely a few hours after they published the response by Daniel Ong, TRS followed up with another post from a self alleged worker from Twelve Cupcakes named Estrada at 10.24pm (source),
In the post it says,
“I am currently working as an Outlet Supervisor at Twelve Cupcakes. Yes, I come from The Philippines and gotten the job due to an agent who recommended me. When I signed the contract, I was told that I am under a different contract from the locals. I am expected to work 12 hours a day, and 6 days a week. My OFF will be planned and roster by the company. I am lucky, I earn more than $1,300 a month. Being a University Graduate in my hometown, I was from Central Luzon State University, I want to get a better paying job and being a supervisor is really a big thing in my country. My family were happy I found a job….
I have never received more money than what they have told me even if I work longer hours with the company. There is no 8 hours work shift. On Mondays, we have to attend a meeting at around 10.30am or 11am, and then head back to our outlets. Our outlet closed at around 9pm at the earliest. How can it be 9 hours? The job is not as fun as what my boss said. If he comes and you are chatting with your colleagues, you get scolded. They have cameras to monitor your every movement.
I know that there are people out there who say we deserve it as the company never point a gun at us to sign the contract. But tell me, if you are in our shoes, do you even know what is the local labour law? Thanks to The Real Singapore website, we now know that anything after 44 hours, we can get higher pay due to overtime.”
In a response to TOC’s enquiry on this new post, Daniel replies that they have no worker of such name. He explains that foreign workers do sign a different contract from locals and that their OT pay is computed into their salaries which allows them to earn the salaries that they do. He reiterate that everything that they do is in accordance to MOM guidelines.
If how we treat our staff is bad… How about the thousands of foreign workers in Singapore? That’s another can of worms isn’t it?
Anyway, we have nothing to hide… We have told the truth . We treat our 13 foreign staff with respect love and care. They earn far better wages than back home and are glad to be here! Our workforce is happy and now showing great togetherness over this .
So maybe that’s my silver lining…
Remember the story about TRS reposting a story “exposing” a Burmese for posting the photo of a NS man drinking in the MRT? (link). Despite apologizing to the person involved, TRS has not written an update post to right the wronged and neither has it removed the article which is attracting even more viewership and ‘likes’.
We did mention in the original article submitted by TRS Reader Vetta that we are unable to verify the allegations made by the foreign worker until MOM responds to us. Like we said before, neither Daniel Ong nor the Foreign workers’ words can be regarded as more true in this case and we will leave it to our readers to decide for themselves.
And so will we to leave to our readers to decide for themselves.[spacer style=”1″ icon=”none”]