Singapore, January 18, 2013
A LACK of manpower is delaying the full opening of the new 1,000-seat foodcourt at Gardens by the Bay.
Satay by the Bay, which pays homage to the Satay Club of the 1980s and 1990s, was missing the buzz of the lunchtime crowd when The Straits Times visited yesterday. Only a handful of tables were occupied and 10 out of 37 stalls were open for the first day of business.
Owners of the other stalls were either waiting for their equipment to arrive or had trouble finding workers to man the stalls, said Mr Alex Neo, the managing director of Planar One & Associates, which operates the place. Five stalls have yet to be rented out, he added.
"We're expecting more staff to join us after Chinese New Year. Now, they're waiting for the New Year hongbaos from their employers. They won't come over even if we offer to pay them more," said Mr Neo.
It does not help that a National Environment Agency rule does not permit foreign workers to work at food stalls or hawker stalls, he added. Hawkers who have delayed the opening of their stalls said they have not been able to find locals willing to work the long hours for low pay.
One such hawker is Mr Syed Mohd Abdul Kadir, 51, who has four stalls at Satay by the Bay but opened only one of them, a satay stall, yesterday.
"I put an ad over two days in The Straits Times recruitment pages and got a lot of responses, but they were mostly from foreigners," he said.
From his experience, locals preferred to work five days a week, from 9am to 5pm, for $2,500 to $3,000 a month. In comparison, foreigners ask for a starting pay upwards of $1,000, are willing to work six days a week and start the work day at 6am.
The available positions of cashier and assistant chef require people to work six days a week, from 11am to 9pm. Mr Syed is offering monthly pay of between $1,300 and $1,600 for both positions.