Customers have started boycotting trays at Jurong West Hawker Centre after learning of the 20 cents charge levied on hawkers by the hawker centre operator for each tray returned by patrons.
12 hawkers have also signed a petition which was sent in August to Hawker Management, the operator of the social enterprise hawker centre.
The tray-return initiative can cost hawkers between S$600 to S$900 a month, and is a separate cost from dish-washing and cleaning costs – which can come up to S$1100.
Including rent, hawkers pays over S$4000 to rent a stall at the hawker centre.
They have called the additional costs on top of rent sneaky and unjustified, and the cause of rising food prices.
Social enterprise hawkers (SEHCs), according to the government, are supposed to be run on a not-for-profit basis.
Already, patrons at the hawker centre are starting to boycott trays at the hawker centre.
One patron, 52-year-old Ms Goh, explained her decision not to use trays:
“A bowl of noodles costs about 2 to 3 dollars. But every time a tray is returned the hawker has to pay 20 cents and when all is added up it’s not a small sum to pay every month. How are the hawkers going to survive?”
Another 59-year-old, Mdm Wong, also said she stopped using trays after finding out that hawkers had to pay every time they were returned.
Hawker Management, a subsidiary of Koufu, runs the Jurong West Hawker Centre.
The firm said the it would conduct meetings with tenants over the next few days to gather feedback and understand their concerns.