TL;DR – Not so straightforward after all.
There were two articles on alternative media site, The Independent SG (TISG), alleging NTUC Foodfare of mistreating hawkers. The two articles talked about two separate incidents.
Elderly hawker who passed away
The TISG articles alleged that an elderly hawker had passed away after working 18-hour days to avoid hefty fine from NTUC Foodfare after the food court operator rejected appeal to shorten operating hours.
NTUC Foodfare has since clarified that the elderly hawker, who operated stalls 6 and 7 at Changi Terminal 4, did not reach out to NTUC Foodfare at all to ask for shorter operating hours.
What happened, instead, was that on 19 February 2018, Foodfare’s outlet manager noticed that the elderly hawker was looking unwell. He then persuaded the elderly hawker to seek medical help while his staff attended to the stalls.
Foodfare added that when they found out that the elderly hawker had passed away, they rendered their assistance to his family, and waived the contract pre-termination penalty.
Injured hawker who couldn’t open stall was fined $3500
In those same two articles on TISG, it was also alleged that NTUC Foodfare fined a 56-year-old tenant $3,500 fine who was unable to operate for a few days due to an injury. The stall that the article referred to was Stall 4, at Changi Airport Terminal 4.
Foodfare has also issued a statement regarding this:
- Stall licensee (i.e. the one who actually rented the stall) asked to close the stall for 4 days because her father, who was the person doing the cooking, was injured. Foodfare allowed them to do so without any penalty.
- Subsequently, on another occasion, the stall licensee closed for 2 days, presumably for the same reason. NTUC Foodfare only imposed a token penalty.
- The stall licensee then decided that she wanted out, asking to terminate her lease prematurely.
- She changed her mind, and asked to transfer the lease to another licensee. NTUC Foodfare facilitated that.
While NTUC Foodfare was facilitating the transfer of lease, the stall licensee closed the stall for 7 days due to her father experiencing pain in his leg. She had told the outlet manager that she would open her stall after her father’s medical leave. But as she did not honor that commitment, it hence triggered the pre-termination clause, which was part of the leasing agreement, resulting in said “$3,500 fine”.
NTUC Foodfare also offered the stall licensee the option that if she were to open her stall within 3 days, they would consider a waiver of the penalty charge of $3,500 for the unauthorised closure out of goodwill. She still chose not to operate her stall.
Foodfare is currently in the midst of concluding the licensee’s outstanding finances and her dispute of the S$3,500 penalty.
(Cover image via)