Singapore publisher in court again for not paying former staff as claims mount of unpaid bills from government customers

Alphabet Media logoSingapore-based publisher Alphabet Media, the owner of gov-tech brand FutureGov, faces a court hearing this week against a former member of staff who claims the company owes her S$3,500 in unpaid salary.

Vinita Penna was a member of Alphabet’s events department that was axed in January, and claims that unlike the rest of her team has not been paid salary owed in lieu for the final month of her employment. She was informed of her dismissal on the day before she was due to return from the Christmas break, and says she has received no response to requests for her notice period salary to be settled.

Penna now works for a new rival to FutureGov in the gov-tech events space, OpenGov, which was set up by two former Alphabet senior sales executives a few weeks after they left the company in January.

The hearing is scheduled for 9.30am, Friday 6 March at Singapore’s Labour Court.

In response to Mumbrella’s request for comment, Alphabet Media’s founder and MD James Smith said: “All staff payments have all been settled”.

It is the second time in nine months that Alphabet Media has been taken to court over unpaid wages by former employees. Singapore’s labour tribunal found in favour of former sales executive Fiona Cher last June over S$2,700 (US$2,160) in outstanding salary.

The company is also facing claims of unpaid debt from suppliers and government event delegates.

A South Australian government official has shared emails with Mumbrella that suggest that Alphabet Media has not reimbursed travel expenses for a FutureGov event he attended as an expert panelist in October last year. Gary Maguire, manager of business and location intelligence for the South Australian’s Department for Communities & Social Inclusion, participated as an International Leader at the FutureGov Summit in Canberra. He personally funded his trip as his employer’s overseas travel policy did not cover airfares at short notice.

Email complaint to FutureGov

Email complaint to Alphabet Media

A government delegate from the Philippines has also shared emails that show outstanding payment for travel expenses dating back to May 2014. Rene De Guzman, planning and MIS manager at the National Dairy Authority, claims he is owed the cost of an airfare to attend the GovCFO Summit in Kuala Lumpur, and requests for payment have been ignored.

Two suppliers in Australia, one the provider of audiovisual services for an event in that country, have called in debt collectors to recoup a total of AU$32,000 in unpaid services from Alphabet Media.

Peter Hind, CEO of Sydney-based firm The Hindsight Forum, penned reports for FutureGov that he claims he has not been fully reimbursed for. He is working with Dun & Bradstreet to retrieve the payment owed, and was told by Alphabet Media in February that the first instalment would be paid – but the payment did not come through.

In January, Alphabet Media faced a claim of unpaid contribution to Singapore’s Central Provident Fund tax system.

  • Disclaimer: The author of this story was an employee of Alphabet Media from February 2009 – December 2010.

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