Hawker who died did not appeal for shorter work hours: Foodfare

NTUC Foodfare has denied a report that a stall owner who died of heart failure - allegedly after working 18-hour days - had appealed to the social enterprise to have his hours shortened.

An elderly hawker who owned two stalls at Changi Airport's Terminal 4 food court died after falling ill on Feb 19 this year.

His name has been given by the company only as Mr Fong.

On Monday, sociopolitical website The Independent published a story claiming it had been informed by a reader that Mr Fong had been working the long hours to avoid being fined by his employers, after having an appeal to shorten his working time rejected.

The report also said he had been warned that he would be fined $500 for each day that the stalls were closed, which led to him running them alone from 5am to 11pm each day.

In a Facebook post yesterday, NTUC Foodfare responded by calling the report "inaccurate and misleading", saying that it had put together "several untruths".

In a media statement, the company said: "We will like to clarify that we have never received any request or appeal from the owner of stalls 6 and 7 to shorten operating hours."

NTUC Foodfare also said it has waived the contract pre-termination penalty for Mr Fong's two stalls due to his sudden death.

"We have been in contact with Mr Fong's son, and he is aware that we are processing the refund of the security deposit, sales proceeds and return of equipment," it added.

NTUC Foodfare said that it understood from Mr Fong's son that the family did not contact any online media outlet.

Monday's The Independent article was shared more than 4,600 times.

It came as Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry Tan Wu Meng said on the same day that the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) had been notified of a proposed acquisition of Kopitiam and its subsidiaries by NTUC Enterprise, which oversees NTUC Foodfare.

Dr Tan, who was responding to questions about the takeover from Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) and Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Dennis Tan, said that the CCCS is assessing the transaction.

"NTUC Enterprise has committed not to proceed with the merger until CCCS has issued its decision," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2018, with the headline 'Hawker who died did not appeal for shorter work hours: Foodfare'. Print Edition | Subscribe