By Swan Kaur, Wake Up Singapore
“I only thank god I gave birth to my 6th child naturally and not by c-section so that i can walk and go (look) for money to feed my children…What (have) you done to all of us?…You have just dragged us on and on with lies, caring only about yourselves.” – An employee at Stickies who has not been paid since December 2023
A Sticky Situation
Wake Up Singapore understands that Stickies, a popular local bar known for its cheap drinks and ‘Beer O Clock’, has not paid salaries on time to at least 65 employees in the past few months.
According to documents from ACRA, Mr Then Wen Jun Norman (“Norman”) and Mr Chong Sing Yong (“Sino”) are the directors of Stickies Bar Pte Ltd (UEN No. 201703179Z).
Unpaid Salaries, Reneged Promises
At least 40 employees have filed disputes with the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) regarding their unpaid salaries. Workers from Stickies told Wake Up Singapore that Stickies has repeatedly failed to pay employees properly and on time.
We understand that Stickies may also be facing sanctions for failing to pay CPF for their employees on time.
Based on documents obtained by Wake Up Singapore, at least 18 employees experienced delayed payments in November 2023. Some shortfalls exceeded SGD 1000.
For the month of December 2023, more than 60 employees were not paid on time, or paid at all.
An employee contacted TADM in November 2023 after not receiving his salary. He then entered into a settlement agreement with Sino. The affected employee said that Sino has since reneged on the terms of the settlement agreement.
Wake Up Singapore understands that Stickies has also been hiring illegal workers since January 2023. These are mostly student pass holders.
The illegal workers, unlike most other employees, were actually paid their salaries in December.
“It’s been really tough, especially when I’m the sole breadwinner with 6 kids.” – an unpaid employee at Stickies
It is unlikely that Stickies, which has approximately 5 official employees, is able to operate two outlets without enlisting external workers.
Who are Stickies Bar?
Stickies Bar Pte Ltd is a local F&B establishment founded in 2017 with approximately 51-200 employees, according to their LinkedIn profile.
The company operates four outlets located at Aljunied, Keng Cheow, Dhoby Ghaut, and Sunset Lane. Only the outlets at Sunset Lane and Dhoby Ghuat remain open at the time of writing.
CEO Mr. Norman Then assured Stickies employees that they would receive their December 2023 salaries by January 8, 2024.
However, when they were not paid on the 8th, Mr. Norman promised to pay them on the 15th.
Mr. Norman also asked his employees to “work and bring in sales” to enable the company to pay them:
“We understand how you all feel, but if we don’t work and bring in sales, then we can’t pay everyone. So please help us help you.”
While his employees voiced their struggles and frustration, Mr. Norman left Singapore for a vacation to Bali on the 12th of January. This was not unnoticed by employees.
When confronted, he claimed that the trip was funded by his wife.
Interim Judicial Management?
Instead of paying their salaries on Monday, the 15th of January, Mr. Norman announced that the company would undergo Interim Judicial Management (IJM), a type of debt restructuring.
Employees react to Stickies’ IJM
Upon hearing the news of the IJM, an employee pointed out that Mr. Norman and Mr. Chong had the entire month of December and half of January to inform their employees.
Another employee expressed disappointment:
“…The decision to communicate this information belatedly reflects a complete lack of foresight and responsibility…I think you have repeatedly failed to understand the implications on our livelihoods, which we have all tolerated in the past few months and even years.”
As employees voiced their dismay and indignation, Mr. Norman told his employees:
“Guys. The government is going to pay y’all. You will get paid.”
Mr. Norman also accused an employee of harassment when they requested payment for what the company owed them.
“Your solution to get your money back is to harass me?”
“You threatening me, is it?”
Removing Employees from Chat Groups
On multiple occasions, Mr. Norman removed employees from the employee group chat when they questioned him about their salaries.
When an employee approached Mr. Norman for her salary, he suggested that she work as a part-timer with Stickies.
He proposed paying her through commissions on drinks sold instead of paying her salary in the meantime.
“Again. We only dispersed the funds as advised by the lawyers.”
Another employee asked:
“So you’ve paid the staff who are currently working?”
Mr. Norman replied:
“I am not at liberty to discuss this.”
Hiring and Paying Illegal Workers
According to videos and documentation sighted by Wake Up Singapore, Stickies has been hiring illegal workers since 2023.
According to the documents, the company reportedly paid the workers through the bank account of an Outlet Manager (“OM”).
From January to December 2023, Stickies allegedly transferred at least $10,000 each month from its company account to the OM’s bank account to pay the illegal workers.
Reportedly, a sum of SGD 20,000 was transferred out of Stickies to the account of an operational staff in January 2024. An employee suspects that this sum used to pay the illegal workers.
15 Employees were laid off
Wake Up Singapore understands that Stickies has a average combined fortnightly revenue of SGD 120,000 from multiple outlets. However, Stickies’ directors claim the company is unable to pay their employees.
Meanwhile, Norman and Sino continue to use rented cars paid for by Stickies.
“Who has been taking the daily sales? Where has the revenue been going?” – An unpaid employee at Stickies
In the past couple of months, the company reportedly laid off 15 employees.
They were informed their employee contracts have been terminated with immediate effect. Wake Up Singapore has had sight of one such termination notice.
According to MOM: “If an employer terminates an employment contract with no plan to fill the vacancy soon, the employee is considered to have been retrenched.”
According to our sources, at least three employees who may have been eligible for retrenchment benefits were reportedly pressured to resign.
Four employees were allegedly unfairly terminated, as Stickies reportedly did not honor the one-month notice period specified in their contracts.
Companies with at least 10 employees must notify MOM of any retrenchment exercise.
Stickies did not respond to Wake Up Singapore’s request for comment on 19 January 2024.
Wake Up Singapore hopes that the affected employees get a just result and receive what they are owed.
This article was first published on Wake Up Singapore