Dish-collection worker at Whampoa Hawker Centre

New contractor employed by Foodfare at Whampoa was charged in court this year

It was earlier reported that after NTUC Foodfare took over the iconic Whampoa Hawker Centre, it changed the dish collector resulting in hawkers paying higher fees. The new contractor is also doing a bad job compared to the previous one.

The hawkers at Whampoa Hawker Centre wash their own dishes and cookware, but rely on a contractor to collect and return the trays and dishes back to the stall.

The previous dish-collection contractor charged:

  • $300 for drink stalls;
  • $360 for stalls that sell noodles; and
  • $390 for stalls that sell rice.

With the new dish-collection company appointed by Foodfare, the charges are now:

  • $420 for beverage stalls; and
  • around $470 for food stalls.

Mr Nah, a hawker who runs a fruit stall, said that he had been running his stall for decades under NEA and experienced no issues. However, he grumbled about how the new dish-collection fees are both expensive, and how the new contractor is inefficient. He questioned why the tender was given to a new company when the former was willing to do a better job at a lower fee. Mr Nah had sent photos to NEA showing the poor performance of the new contractor appointed by NTUC Foodfare. But nothing has happened.

He added that the hawkers were also not consulted by NTUC Foodfare with regard to the appointment of the new contractor. “If the former contractor is willing to do the same work for $300, why are they using this new contractor who does not seem to be doing a better job?” asked Mr Nah.

Other than the increase of fees, hawkers also grumbled about the collection of fees, which currently takes place at the start of the month instead of every 10 days practised by the previous contractor. The hawkers expressed displeasure over the fact that payments are collected before the work is done.

Mr Nah exclaimed, “Why should they be charging the hawkers before work is being done!? Do they think it is easy to earn money from hawkers?”

Another hawker calculated the sum with TOC during the visit to the hawker centre, he said, “There are eighty stalls here, given that each pays $400, that comes to a sum of more than $30,000. There are only eight cleaners here at most during the day, so where is the money spent on?”

Bestway Cleaning Services Pte Ltd is the new contractor appointed by NTUC Foodfare

TOC has found out that the new dish-collecting contractor appointed by NTUC Foodfare is Bestway Cleaning Services Pte Ltd.

In fact, in Jun this year, Bestway Cleaning Services together with 2 other companies, were fined by the court for housing foreign workers in overcrowded private residential premises, which did not comply with the URA guidelines.

Director of Bestway Cleaning Services, Koh Kok Seng, was convicted under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). The company has now been barred from employing foreign workers.

It was fined $18,000 for failing to provide acceptable accommodation and failing to update OFWAS, the online system that enables employers to update the addresses of their foreign workers with Manpower Ministry. All employers of Work Permit (WP) holders are required to provide the residential addresses of their WP holders to the Ministry prior to issuance or renewal of their WP.

The case came to the attention of Manpower Ministry when a shop house in Lorong 4 Geylang used to house foreign workers employed by Bestway Cleaning Services and the 2 companies caught fire. Four workers died in the fire with several others injured. There were 22 foreign workers residing in the shop house, which exceeded URA’s prevailing occupancy cap of eight persons.

Employers are required by law to provide accommodation that comply with the various statutory requirements for their foreign workers.

In any case, it’s not known why NEA wouldn’t allow the hawkers themselves to group together to hire their own contractor, or even hire the cleaners directly, by-passing at least 2 layers of middlemen.