Ex-DJ Daniel Ong dismisses allegations of Twelve Cupcakes exploiting foreign workers

Ex-DJ Daniel Ong dismisses allegations of Twelve Cupcakes exploiting foreign workers. (Photo from Twelve Cupcakes' Facebook page)

[UPDATE 27 Nov 12pm Adding response from the Ministry of Manpower]

Former DJ and CEO of Twelve Cupcakes Daniel Ong has rejected claims made by a report that his company exploits foreign workers.

The report was published by The Real Singapore (TRS) and was written by a contributor called Vettel. The writer claimed to have spoken to two Filipino employees and one China staff member. They had allegedly said that the company, owned by Ong and his wife, former beauty queen Jaime Teo, requires its full-time foreign staff to work 12 hours a day and that they only get a day off every week.

On the contrary, full-time local staff work eight hours a day, and get one and a half days off a week, said Vettel.

The writer also added that these foreign workers are only earning S$3 an hour.

Vettel also said that foreign baking staff are subject to the same working hours and also have to shuttle between two outlets on the same day.

Accounts from different staff members revealed that kitchen and baking staff earn somewhere around S$850 to S$1,000 per month, said Vettel.

The writer also said that a disgruntled Filipino supervisor told her that the foreign workers do not get “overtime pay unless it is approved by management” and these are only for cases when the workers have to “work during their break days.”

Allegations untrue: Ong

Ong, who is currently in Hong Kong preparing for the opening of two new stores in two weeks' time, told Yahoo Singapore that the allegations made by TRS are “baseless” and “untrue”.

He stressed that his firm follows MOM guidelines closely.

With regard to the claims that foreign workers earn around S$850 to $1,000 and do not receive overtime pay, Ong said these allegations are “false”, adding that his employees who are on work permit earn between S$1,100 and S$1,400. Their basic salary is S$800 and they usually receive between S$300 and S$500 as overtime pay.

He also revealed that those on an S-pass earn between S$2,200 and S$2,300 with the take-home pay being S$1,400 as the company pays for their lodging.

Ong also refuted the claim by TRS that his foreign staff work 12 hours a day for six days a week.

He said they work 11 hours a day with a 1.5-hour break, adding that they are compensated for the overtime accordingly.

Ong also revealed that of his company’s 120 employees, only 13 are foreigners.

The former DJ also told Yahoo Singapore that his company is “employee-oriented”, citing examples of an incentive programme which rewards all employees with S$150 a month each if no one took MCs or was late for the month. Employees are invited for company functions, such as bowling, prawn fishing and company dinners.

Ong also said that TRS wrote to his company at 9am on Monday informing them that they would publish the article if he did not reply by nightfall.

However, TRS published the article at 10:52am on Monday.

Ong has since sent an email to TRS responding to the allegations which was published on TRS on Monday night.

In the article, TRS’s editor also pointed out that the blog did give Twelve Cupcakes a full day to respond to the complaint letter sent in by one of its readers.

The editor added that the email TRS sent on Monday morning was a second and final reminder for Ong and his team.

Ong said that some of his staff have written to him to show support.

He has also spoken to all his Filipino supervisors and none of them have spoken to TRS.

Ong also told Yahoo Singapore that as the CEO of the company, he does not intend to pursue the matter.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Manpower told Yahoo Singapore on Tuesday evening that they have not received any complaints about the company regarding the exploitation of foreign workers.

Meanwhile, Ong has also expressed his frustration over the matter on social media.

Post by Daniel Ong.

Twelve Cupcakes opened its doors in July 2011 at United Square with recipes by Teo.

It has since grown rapidly with 12 branches in Singapore as well as outlets in Malaysia and Taiwan.

It has plans to expand in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

This is not the first time that the cupcake shop has courted controversy.

Back in July 2012, Ong was embroiled in a saga with Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) for reproducing SPH articles about the bakery without paying licensing fees.

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Former radio deejay refuses to pay SPH, campaigns for greater transparency
Ex-radio deejay Daniel Ong: I’ve been in the media for 20 years, why now?
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