As the online community raged and spilled hateful remarks over the hiring preference of newly opened fast-food chain Jollibee, the company chose not to comment on any of it – until now.
A Jollibee spokesperson responded to inSing News’ queries, in particular, to the Facebook posting that started the whole controversy, where it appeared that it was hiring just foreigners to work in its first Singapore outlet.
Posted on the Facebook page of “EDMW loves Singapore” on 12 February was a screenshot of Jollibee Singapore’s Facebook posting asking “Jollibee fans” to send in their resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like an opportunity to work in Jollibee Singapore.
One Facebook user “Ykcul Aquino” had asked if the opening is for foreigners, and Jollibee Singapore responded “yes”.
The original post which started the whole online controversy (Photo: EDMW loves Singapore Facebook page)
MAJORITY OF EMPLOYEES NOT FOREIGNERS
The Jollibee management now says that the term “Jollibee fans” in the post was used in the context of addressing “people who have joined our Facebook community, which not only consists of Filipinos but people in Singapore as well”.
“We did not specifically say in that Facebook post or in any of our recruitment posters and ads that we would hire Filipinos only,” the spokesperson pointed out.
The restaurant has a total of 62 employees, of which 79 per cent are not foreigners. There are 46 Singaporeans and three permanent residents, Jollibee said.
The Ministry of Manpower states that up to 45 per cent of a service sector employers’ total workforce can comprise of foreigners.
A check by inSing News on 11 March on the Jollibee Singapore Facebook page showed that the post that started the controversy was removed.
Jollibee explained that the post had “served its purpose already as it was during the time when we were recruiting qualified Singaporeans/permanent residents to form part of our store team”.
“We regularly update posts contained in our official Facebook page (and that includes removing posts which are no longer necessary) as part of our content management plan,” the spokesperson added.
The response may have been helpful if it had come earlier, as the incident pricked online users ever ready to jump on a controversy.
Many assumed that Jollibee’s parent company was scouting for foreigners to be hired at Jollibee’s first branch in Singapore at Lucky Plaza.
“Email address ends with a .ph, so they could be recruiting from there to work here in Singapore”, one Facebook user “Eddie Teo” remarked.
Some comments called for a boycott of the chain, while users such as “Kalyani Chua” said: “Want to save $$$ so hire foreigner???”
Some users such as “Abe S. Tan” called for reason: “When a S'pore based company sets up shop overseas, S'poreans take on a regional role too, so what's the issue here?”
A Facebook page “Boycott Jollibee Singapore” was created, where it stated that “unlike other MNCs like McDonald’s and KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) which hire mainly Singaporeans. Jollibee Singapore intends to hire fellow Pinoys to fill up new jobs in SG”.
Questions were sent by inSing News to "Boycott Jollibee Singapore" Facebook page, but there has been no response so far.
The issue picked up steam right up to the outlet’s opening on 12 March, with Philstar.com, a Philippine-based news and entertainment news portal, reporting on the controversy.
Food blogger Daniel Ang called the boycott “ridiculous and uncalled for” in his post.
OPENING A SUCCESS
In the end, the chain’s Lucky Plaza opening last week was still a huge success, with queues of 300 people at any one time. One of the staff members reckoned that the wait would have been “over one-and-a-half hours”.
The crowds at the opening of Jollibee’s first outlet at Lucky Plaza on 12 March (Photo: Jollibee Singapore Facebook page)
The management states that it is “steadfast in (its) commitment to consistently uphold fair employment practices” and is focused on “warm and personalised service” for customers, whether the staff members are Filipinos or not.
“Our hiring posters and recruitment ads as well as the actual number of Singaporean nationals and permanent residents we have on board in our store team already speak for itself,” the spokesperson said.
“We would rather focus our attention on making our customers here in Singapore – both Filipinos and locals – happy and satisfied with our food offerings and service”.