Operators to tweak ‘onerous’ contract terms for hawkers
Social enterprise hawker centres will offer operational and tenancy flexibility to protect interests of hawkers
Several “onerous” contractual terms will have to be tweaked by operators of social enterprise hawker centres (SEHCs) to protect the interests of hawkers.
After getting feedback from hawkers, patrons and operators, the National Environment Agency (NEA) yesterday said stalls at these seven centres can choose to open five days a week, instead of the six which some social operators require.
And if hawkers choose to open longer than eight hours, operators will need to engage them to find how they plan to do so, and if they have sufficient manpower.
Hawkers will also not be “locked” into their tenancy agreements. Instead, they can keep their security deposits – capped at two months’ rent – if they decide to give up their stalls, as long as they give notice, which should not be more than two months. The changes, which also include caps to fines for contract breaches and removal of legal fees for tenancy agreements, will kick in from next year.
Speaking to reporters yesterday at Ci Yuan Hawker Centre, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said that regardless of the way hawker centres are run, the objectives remain the same: to provide affordable food options for residents, but at the same time ensure that hawkers make a livelihood and get a fair deal.
After the recent scrutiny over the way SEHCs are run, “we note that some of the terms (of the contract) may seem onerous. Some of the contracts have been replicated by SEHCs from other food establishments, although they say they exercise some flexibility in practice,” she added.
Seven out of 114 hawker centres are currently managed by private social enterprises and cooperatives – Fei Siong Social Enterprise, NTUC Foodfare, Timbre+Hawkers, Hawker Management by Koufu and OTMH by Kopitiam.
There had been complaints that some operators had based the way they run SEHCs on their experience in running private foodcourts.
There have also been concerns over how much SEHC hawkers are charged for services such as tray returns and dish cleaning.
Dr Khor, who also urged operators to find ways to increase footfall, such as free parking, lucky draw campaigns and family carnivals, said the NEA will continue to