Cucina Manila accused by Pinoy workers for non-payment of wages, holiday pay

4

Five previous employees of Cucina Manila food group have filed a Request for Payment against the said company before the British Columbia Employment Standards Branch claiming non-payment of wages amounting to a total of $23,899.00.

The Cucina Manila group of restaurants owned by Liberty Vibar was relatively successful in the past years with their expansion into a four restaurant operation in Richmond, New Westminster, Surrey and Vancouver. The Richmond location, however, recently closed.

The Metrovan Independent team who interviewed five former Cucina Manila employees unraveled what appear to be similar allegations. They could not get past wages due. Instead, they would keep working with the hope they would eventually be paid.

Advertisement

Management would string them along with promises – just enough to keep them working but not catching up with past salary owed. At times they would be paid in cash after every shift. They reported, once they stopped working they could not get paid for past hours owed. They all reported they were never paid for overtime or holiday pay at any time. Some employees worked seven days a week.

From left to right: Delford Avila, Wilfredo Bagang, Lasalette Viray, Edward Libunao. Photo by MVI News

From left to right: Delford Avila, Wilfredo Bagang, Lasalette Viray, Edward Libunao. Photo by MVI News

EMPLOYEE COMPLAINTS

Lasallete L. Viray – who worked for Cucina Manila for seven years wrote in her complaint that she is owed $7,085.00 for unpaid salary, holiday pay and overtime. “I was working for an average of 13.5 hours a day without overtime and without holiday pay. They did not pay me overtime. They only paid partial of my regular salary. To cheat on their taxes, they payed me in cash. I have a record of all my hours. I have worked at Cucina Manila Surrey.” Viray reported working 94.5 hours per week

Wilfredo M. Bagang – who worked for Cucina Manila for eight months wrote he is owed $2,709.00 and wrote in the complaint “I was never paid for those days and I was paid in checks that turned out to have no sufficient funds (NSF). So I asked to be paid in cash for the rest which they did not do.”

Delford T. Avila – who worked for Cucina Manila for six years wrote he is owed $3,900.00 and stated “I was working for an average of 8.5 hours a day without overtime and without holiday pay. They only did not pay me overtime, they only paid partial of my regular salary. To cheat on their taxes, they paid me in cash. I have a record of all my hours I have worked at Cucina Manila.”        

Edward Libunao – who worked for Cucina Manila at the Joyce Station for six years has not filed his complaint at the time of the original interview claims “Cucina owes him $1,400.00. He said in an interview he had similar experiences as the others trying to collect money.”

Roshir Cabanayan – worked for Cucina Manila for six months. Roshir sent Ms. Vibar a request for payment on an Employment Standards form for the amount of $8,805.00 which includes 444 unpaid hours.

Ms. Cabanayan told Metrovan Independent News in a phone interview that she worked seven days a week from 6:30AM to 8PM. Her wage was set at $11 per hour. She kept working because Liberty kept promising they would get paid. When she was about to leave, Liberty would give her a bit of money to keep her working but never paid her back wages. After some employees left, Liberty would pay the remaining employees $100 a day alternatively to keep them working.

Roshir Cabanayan made a request of payment to Cucina Manila of $8,805.

Roshir Cabanayan made a request of payment to Cucina Manila of $8,805.

Apparently, Liberty went to the Philippines to sell her restaurant and told Roshir that she will pay her back when she comes back from her trip. Ms. Cabanayan states, “Liberty promised to pay us back after she sells her restaurant in the Philippines… a lot of promises. She will bring money to  pay us. Liberty said ‘just be patient I will give you your salary’.”

“We were the only ones left because servers ran away. We did a lot of effort to save the restaurant. If we just stopped when she was in the Philippines there would be no Cucina Manila,” stated Roshir Cabanayan.

While Liberty was away Roshir says Edgar, Liberty Vibar’s husband, was trying to keep up with current salary payments.  When Ms. Vibar came back regular salary payments again stopped.

The workers also alleged there are other past employees that are also owed money. Employees that moved into other jobs still hope they will get paid for wages owed and are waiting for any positive outcome from filings made with the provincial Employment Standards office.

As the wage issue continued between Ms. Vibar and her employees, a routine food inspection of Cucina Manila’s Surrey and Westminster branches uncovered several serious health and sanitation infractions. Last year indicated Cucina had the worst infractions on record with Fraser Health.

In March 2015 in a routine food Inspection, a Fraser Health food inspector noted six serious infractions for the Cucina Manila’s Surrey Location.

This is the highest Hazard Rating Cucina Manila Surrey has had since 2012.

As of press time, MetroVan Independent News phoned, left messages with staff, and emailed the owner Liberty Vibar to get her side of the story but have received no response.


Cucina Manila Surrey

A Fraser Health food Inspector included the following violations:

  • 203 *Critical* Food not cooled in an acceptable manner [s. 12(a)] (This was corrected during the inspection.)
  • 303 *Critical* Equipment/facilities/hot & cold water for sanitary maintenance not adequate [s. 17(3); s. 4(1) (f)] (This was corrected during the inspection.)
  • 306 Food premises not maintained in a sanitary condition [s. 17(1)]
  • 307 Equipment/utensils/food contact surfaces are not of suitable design/material [s. 16; s. 19]
  • 308 Equipment/utensils/food contact surfaces are not in good working order [s. 16(b)]
  • 311 Premises not maintained as per approved plans [s. 6(1)(b)]

Cucina Manila New Westminster

A Fraser Health food Inspector included the following violations:

  • 103 Failure to hold a valid permit while operating a food service establishment [s. 8(1)]
  • 206 *Critical* Hot potentially hazardous food stored/displayed below 60 °C. [s. 14(2)]
  • 307 Equipment/utensils/food contact surfaces are not of suitable design/material [s. 16; s. 19]
  • 308 Equipment/utensils/food contact surfaces are not in good working order [s. 16(b)]
  • 401 *Critical* Adequate handwashing stations not available for employees [s. 21(4)] (This was corrected during the inspection.)
Share.

About the Writer

MetroVan Independent News Team

The MetroVan Independent News team is a group of talented individuals uniting to serve their community through the power of words. They strive for accuracy, fairness, transparency and accountability aiming to engage, inform and entertain their readers. The team's secret weapon is courage and integrity... with a hint of adobo.

4 Comments

  1. MILAGROS ZIPAGAN on

    I salute these workers who took the courage to air out their complaints. Hoping that they can collect what is due them.

    It is nice for the Metrovan Independent News Team to publish this for the information of the people.

  2. Whadaheck! They even charge you $.50 for using debit cards for payment! Greedy pinoy owner! The authorities have to close this restaurant!!!!

  3. That’s so sad for the workers! I hope they will get paid what the owners owe them! I think it’s ambitious of the owners to manage these restaurants when they are not really making money. One time, I went to the Surrey resto to try to see what they had but I was told debit was not accepted as payment so I didn’t get anything. Having read the news, they better close shop!

  4. All these violators should be penalized accdng to the law. Poor workers worked for their family and didn’t get their end of the bargain. Let me say, the authorities should also do some investigations about PHO TAM and NEWTOWN also located in Surrey Central. These two establishments would only accept cash (tax included) but issues doubtful receipts thereby avoiding taxes for CCRA…. they got to work on their sanitation too.