Singapore union takes up Twelve Cup Cakes labor issues, after foreign staff are underpaid

Singapore confectionery firm Twelve Cupcakes, which was found to have underpaid foreign employees over about two years, would be unionized, the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union announced on Tuesday, Channel News Asia reports.

The union aims to “represent and speak up for the employees, and work with the management to educate on the fair employment legislation and practices, and their responsibilities and care towards their employees’ welfare,” its general secretary Tan Hock Soon said in a media statement in Singapore.

He added that the union, which is an affiliate of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), has been engaging the employees and management of the firm since late 2020 with the intent to unionise the company.

“FDAWU endeavors to offer protection for the employees and partnership with the management to recover from this episode,” he said.

“We encourage employees who need workplace assistance to approach the union too.”

Twelve Cupcakes was founded in 2011 by former DJ Daniel Ong and his then-wife actress Jaime Teo. The couple divorced in 2016 and sold the company to India-based Dhunseri Group a few months later.

It was found to have underpaid seven foreign employees of about S$114,000 between December 2016 and November 2018.

The employees – ranging from sales executives, customer service executives and a pastry chef – were promised fixed salaries of between S$2,200 and S$2,600, but given between S$200 and S$1,200 less than that.

The cupcake chain was fined S$119,500 in January and the employees were repaid the salaries they were owed.

Separately, Teo was also charged with underpaying foreign workers a total of almost S$100,000 during her time as director of the company.

Earlier this month, she pleaded guilty to 10 charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act for allowing the company to underpay seven foreign employees. They were owed salaries of between S$2,000 and S$2,600, but were given between S$350 and S$1,400 less between September 2013 and November 2016.

Teo will return to court on February 25 for her case, while Ong faces similar charges and has a court date in March.

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012, employers must pay not less than the fixed monthly salary due to the foreign employee for the month, and payment must be made not later than seven days after the end of the salary period.

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