Stickies Bar abruptly shuts down outlets; 37 employees file salary-related claims , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Stickies Bar abruptly shuts down outlets; 37 employees file salary-related claims

Popular watering hole Stickies Bar abruptly closed two of its outlets on Jan 15 and laid off more than 30 employees, amid workers’ complaints about delayed salary payments.

Former employees The Straits Times spoke to said they are still owed salaries and Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions. They have since filed salary-related claims with the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM).

In a joint statement on Jan 24, spokespersons for the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and TADM said 37 Stickies employees have filed claims with TADM as at Jan 22.

TADM has arranged for mediation sessions between the company and the affected employees on their claims, the joint statement added.

Stickies is a popular local bar in Singapore known for affordable drinks. According to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, the directors of Stickies are Mr Norman Then and Mr Chong Sing Yong.

In response to queries from ST, Mr Then said on Jan 24 that the bar has engaged insolvency practitioner Farooq Mann from Mann & Associates in the capacity of an interim judicial manager.

Mr Then added that this was to “protect the going concerns of the business and to look out for the best interest of all the creditors, including the staff”.

On Jan 15, two of the bar’s four outlets – in Aljunied and Keng Cheow Street – were closed with immediate effect, said Mr Calvin Chen, a part-timer at Stickies.

The 28-year-old added that prior to the closing of the outlets, Stickies had already started retrenching employees. 

At the time of the interview on Jan 22, Mr Chen said Stickies’ outlets in Dhoby Ghaut and Sunset Lane were still operating.

However, Mr Then told ST on Jan 24 that only the Dhoby Ghaut outlet remains open, and did not provide further information on the one at Sunset Lane.

Mr Chen, who currently works full-time in administration, said that the majority of employees were not paid for the month of December.

He added that payment was supposed to come in on the 7th of every month, but since August 2023, delayed salary payments and wrong amounts of salaries credited had become the norm.

Explaining the situation in December, an employee who wanted to be known only as Cel said Mr Then had said on Jan 11 that employees would receive their December salaries on Jan 15.

However, when the day came, employees received a WhatsApp message that indicated that the company would be undergoing debt restructuring, or interim judicial management.

Mr Bryan Kuah, a 24-year-old part-timer at the company, said his pay came in two weeks late in September, and even then, he received only 10 per cent of his pay.

He added that the last time he had received his pay on time was in March 2023, and the last time he received his pay at all was in October.

“The delayed salary has affected me in my daily needs and spending as I am also a full-time student in university, and do not have much time to earn money for my monthly spending,” said Mr Kuah.

Ms Joey Peh, Stickies’ former marketing manager, told ST on Jan 22 that she resigned in December after months of not receiving her pay and CPF contributions on time.

“It was not just a one-off thing. It started to happen more frequently and that’s when the red flags started popping up,” Ms Peh said, adding that she had tried to raise this issue with higher management before she finally resigned.

Ms Peh said her entire team, as well as employees in maintenance, e-commerce and operations, was let go in the week of Jan 1, but was told to stay till Jan 15 with salaries promised.

However, she has not received her pay.

“It’s not just me, but many colleagues are actively chasing for their salaries,” said Ms Peh, adding that she feels for them. “Their families are suffering. It has been quite a hard time for them, especially for those who are the breadwinner of the family and do not come from financially stable households.”

Another part-timer, a 22-year-old university student who wanted to be known only as Joby, said she also has not received her December salary, although the outlet she works at is still operating.

She told ST on Jan 22 that Stickies’ human resources team advised employees to lodge a claim with TADM.

In a WhatsApp message seen by ST, an HR employee said that this was advice given directly by TADM and that it will “ensure that the outstanding basic salary is paid and that there is a settlement between both parties”.

One 23-year-old former part-time employee, who wanted to be known only as Dara, said she had already filed two claims with TADM regarding salary issues, one in Dec 2023 and one in Jan 2024.

“I am mainly upset at the lack of accountability and transparency,” said Ms Dara, who had worked at Stickies since 2020.

She said: “I am most worried about my colleagues who are full-time and rely on this job for their expenses.

“Some of them are struggling mentally as this really affects their lives.”

TADM has directed the matter to MOM for investigations on possible breaches of the Employment Act, the TADM-MOM joint statement said.

“TADM and MOM have also been working closely to provide affected employees with assistance, including helping them with their salary recovery and linking them up with the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) if they require employment facilitation,” the statement said.

But for now, the affected employees are left in limbo, with no resolution in sight.

Ms Peh said: “I have no choice but to move on and find a new job, but my colleagues and I will never stop fighting for the pay that we deserve.”

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