Cleaners at Old Airport Road Food Centre go on strike, supervisor accused of stealing wages

Cleaners at the famed Old Airport Road Food Centre have gone on strike, accusing their supervisor of absconding with their wages.

The incident happened on Jul 1, and the hawker centre has since been left in a state of disarray. 

Many stall owners also told reporters that the supervisor had collected cleaning fees from them before leaving Singapore, absconding with the funds. 

However, the said supervisor later denied the claims, citing that he collected about S$6,000 from the stall owners, of which over S$5,000 had been paid to the cleaners and himself as wages, reports Lianhe Wanbao via Lianhe Zaobao.

The supervisor added that this had always been the usual arrangement, him collecting the money from stall owners and distributing the wages to the cleaners. 

He clarified that he had merely taken what was ‘rightfully his’. 

Responding to the claims by the stall owners, he said that he indeed collected about S$6,000 of cleaning fees from the stall owners on the day of the incident.

Of the S$6,000, S$5,000 was distributed between him and the other cleaners, while the remaining S$1,000 was given to their employer’s mother, who operated a braised duck stall in the food centre. 

He said:

“For the past two years, I have been collecting the cleaning fees on behalf of the boss.

“After using the money to pay off the wages, the remaining funds would be deposited into the company’s bank account, or placed at the braised duck stall."

However, the said employer’s mother refuted the supervisor’s claims, saying that she did not receive the money.

She also alleged that the supervisor had not been in contact with her son, the boss of the cleaning company, and they had no idea of his whereabouts.

A stall owner who did not wish to disclose his identity said that he was among those who had paid the cleaning fees, but had no idea where the money was.

He also voiced his concern that such an incident could be repeated. 

The owner lamented:

“The entire food centre is in a mess now.

“We all suffered losses.

“No matter the reason, I hope that the issue will be resolved soon.”