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Sakae Sushi clears the air on dishwasher offer

Posted on Sep 13, 2012 9:58 PM Updated: Sep 14, 2012 7:31 PM
-- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Dishwashers wanted: Must be willing to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Salary: $3,000. Singaporean and PR only.

Sakae Sushi today moved to clear up any confusion over the terms of employment for its dishwashers a day after its $3,000 offer made waves online. In that time it has received some 300 enquiries.

It also said that only those serious about the job should apply.

It posted on its Facebook page: “We would like to emphasise that this position includes other cleaning responsibilities, not just dishwashing, and is very physically demanding.”

Much of the talk about the offer online had been about the discrepancies about how long the dishwashers have to work. Its branding and communications manager Gregg Lewis has confirmed that dishwashers will work six days a week, from 10.30am to 10.30pm with break times.

This is a departure from Sakae Sushi chief Douglas Foo’s earlier comments to the media that the dishwashers will work nine hours a day for six days a week.

Mr Lewis said the company had experimented with different work hours and “what Douglas mentioned to the news previously was based on one of the scenarios tested that was found to be not feasible due to crowd volume”.

The actual working hours were finalised only late on Wednesday night, he said.

News of the 12-hour day, or 72 hours a week, had caused some doubt over whether the offer was genuine.

Others, like former Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong asked if it flouted the Employment Act, which says that workmen like dishwashers cannot work for more than 44 hours a week, excluding overtime and break time.

The controversy, say observers was stoked partly by the high salary offer but also served to highlight just how difficult it has been for employers wanting to hire Singaporeans for blue-collar work. Employers, especially SMEs, have been complaining lately that they face a shortage of workers, a situation made more acute by the tightening tap on foreign workers.

Mr Foo said last night that the $3,000 offer includes overtime pay.

“It will not contravene the Act. For those extra hours, they will be given over time. In totality, the (pay) package will be $3,000.”

Dishwashers at the restaurant chain are already hired on these terms, he added. Sakae pays $2,300 to $2,900 to a contractor to provide each dishwasher, but he reckons that each worker takes home far less.

“They are working so hard. I wish they can be paid the amount that we are paying out every month to the contractor. We hope to hire locals who can receive the entire amount,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sakae’s offer continued to attract attention online last night, with even Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam joining in the fray.

He posted on his Facebook at around 8pm: “Sakae Sushi boss says they are offering $3,000 per month for dish washers but can’t find people?” It drew more than 40 comments within the hour.