Robot Kitty event staff: Organiser owes us $50,000
Robot Kitty event crew furious, say organiser owes them $50,000 in unpaid salaries
More than 70 peoplewho worked for Mighty Eight, organiser of Robot Kitty Singapore, as temporary crew members last month (June), have claimed they are owed salaries amounting to $50,000 in total.
They are mostly students who were required to perform duties such as ushering, briefing and manning stalls at the Suntec Convention Centre event.
Some of their contracts stated they were to begin work on June 9 for a 12-day period. Their salaries were to be paid on July 22.
But none of them have received payment so far.
The figures were disclosed to The New Paper yesterday by The HR Ecology, the company that recruited the workers - aged between 17 and 24 - on behalf of Mighty Eight.
Mighty Eight's director, Mr Teo Choon Leng, has not been contactable, except when a group of workers confronted him at a warehouse sale.
Malcolm Chua, 17, was one of the workers who had unsuccessfully tried to reach Mr Teo.
The tertiary student told TNP yesterday: "This has been a very troublesome and upsetting process (of trying to get our salaries). We're feeling tired and helpless."
Malcolm said his group of co-workers, who had been promised salaries of between $400 and $1,000, have filed 19 police reports.
One report lodged by Nicholas Ho, 17, on July 25, said he had been notified on June 23 by The HR Ecology to collect his pay directly from Mighty Eight's office.
Mr Teo was supposed to contact Nicholas "on a future date to proceed down to the (Mighty Eight) office to collect the pay".
But it never happened.
Malcolm showed TNP his contract, which stated that Mighty Eight would pay him $800 in "service fee".
Malcolm said: "I was basically earning $6.50 an hour. If I had known, I could have found better paying jobs without the hassle I'm facing now."
The issue of non-payment of salaries has surfaced online.
Ms Rachael Lee posted on Facebook: "We have run out of options and hope that you (netizens) will help us out."
She told TNP yesterday that she was hired to brief visitors at the event.
She was one of two people who confirmed Mr Teo's identity when they were shown his photograph.
Ms Lee said phone calls made to Mr Teo at his Genting Lane office and a visit there proved fruitless as the office has been left vacant.
Last weekend, some disgruntled workers, including staff from The HR Ecology, confronted Mr Teo at a warehouse sale in MacPherson, where he was selling Robot Kitty merchandise.
Malcolm and his colleagues demanded their unpaid salaries.
Mr Teo allegedly told them he had no money and they should find a lawyer and go to the Ministry of Manpower.
Said Malcolm: "He told us he owed other people $3 million. There was no 'sorry' said to us. From the start, I think he had no intention of apologising."
The claims against Mighty Eight may not be covered under the Employment Act, as there is no employer-employee relationship. The work done by Malcolm and his co-workers is termed as contract for service or independent contractors.
But one of the avenues for redress is to file individual claims at the Small Claims Tribunal, said lawyer Satwant Singh.
Mr Singh said: "The lesson here is to do background checks on the company you intend to work for. What you learn from your research could save you a lot of heartache later."
When the TNP team visited Mr Teo's flat at Ubi Avenue 1 last night, nobody was home.
His mobile phone number is no longer in service.
"This has been a very troublesome and upsetting process (of trying to get our salaries). We're feeling tired and helpless."
- Malcolm Chua
Firm also sued for not paying fees
TNP has learnt that Mighty Eight, a company that manufactures games and toys and organises events, has been sued for not honouring a "service fee" to The HR Ecology.
A letter of demand was issued yesterday to Mighty Eight director Teo Choon Leng, The HR Ecology told TNP.
The company helped hire the staff for the Robot Kitty event last month, for which the workers have yet to be paid.
Although a spokesman for The HR Ecology had declined to reveal the amount, she hinted it was a smaller sum than the $50,000 allegedly owed to the workers.
Said manager Jacqueline Neo: "We're also victims who were caught by surprise in this case. We're now claiming for our own losses and seeking legal advice on behalf of the candidates (contract workers)."