Transitioning: Thanks for allowing us Nicholas to interview you with regard to your work place dispute at Han’s Café. How has the dispute panned out between you and the employer?
Nicholas: With regard to the dispute, Hans café has sent a letter to me informing me that I have been dismissed for inciting a fight among my colleagues and they would credit my remaining salary to my account. They sent me the dismissal letter despite the fact that I was the one who resigned on my last day there.
Transitioning: Your work place incident article has drawn massive interest from Singaporeans – to date it has crossed the 10, 000-view mark, are you surprised to see such immense support from the netizens here and why?
Nicholas: It was not my intention to gain attention or support from anyone. It started with my email to Gilbert Goh relaying my story asking for help on how to resolve the issue and soon after the article was posted up and some of my friends posted in on other sites like The Online Citizen and that was when it went viral. I am not surprised by the amount of interest it has generated as all along local vs foreign talent issues have been very prevalent in recent years. The social media is a platform for many to express their views on matters that irked the public but as I said it was not my intention to gain attention hence I did not read about the comments or bothered to even reply to any as you can see.
Transitioning: In the article, you have mentioned that there was a confrontation between you and the Malaysian cooks before you threw in the towel, what actually happened there?
Nicholas: It was actually my last day of work at Hans Café (Upper Thomson) as I have submitted my resignation letter earlier.
I have to serve the one-day notice and decided to put on a positive attitude and end my work there without any trouble. However it seems the workers there are not willing to let me go that easily. The first incident happened when one of the customers ordered noodles without pork, after the food was done, I was supposed to serve the dish but wasn’t sure whether there is pork in it.
So I asked the Malaysian cook nicely whether that is the dish and he replied rudely: “See for yourself lah, cannot see is it!”
I decided to keep quiet about the incident so as not to create a scene on my last day of work.
I was already very upset and angry when the Hans bosses came to buy a chicken pie from me and insisted on paying for it. I collected the money courteously from him and he took the pie away.
Just then, a PRC manager beside me came up and said: “ You know who he is? He is the boss! Why didn’t you give him a discount?” in a curt tone.
That was when I blew my top and went to the back alley where I ran into this Malaysian cook again who was smoking there and he said that I was inefficient in my work.
During that heated moment, I almost came to blow with him but were pulled back by other colleagues.
Honestly, I have no issues against foreign workers – it just happens that the cooks there are Malaysians. Even if they are Singaporeans, I would have confronted them the same way I did as they were tactless and do not take others’ feelings into consideration.
I would say it was more of the experienced vs the inexperienced and the experienced workers will tend to form a clique and make things difficult for the newer ones especially so as I am a new supervisor and they are unhappy about me being ahead of them.
Transitioning: Many comments have also complained that you have quitted too soon from your job – do you think that they are right to say so?
Nicholas: They do not have the right to say so as I felt that the job has no meaning for me anymore as there wasn’t much for me to learn. I felt that I have quitted at the right time.
Transitioning: Comments have also came in saying that generally Singaporeans graduates are soft and prefer cushy jobs, what is your view on this?
I mentioned in my earlier article that I was a NUS graduate but did not explain why I took on the job. I took on the job because I was genuinely interested in the food business. I could have took on other high paying jobs like my friends. During my time at Hans, I did not ask for the supervisor post neither did I mentioned to anyone that I was a graduate except for the person who interviewed me.
Somehow word spread that I was a graduate and I knew it would be detrimental to me as the workers would look down on me and tried all ways to make me quit.
Promises by my manager that I would learn to cook were also not kept and all I did there was handling customer complaints, cashiering and washing dishes.
I quitted as I felt there was nothing more I can learn from the job and decided to move on.
My mum could cook better anyway and I was better learning off from her and we are going to rent our own stall selling our own dishes in the near future.
Comment about me being soft was ridiculous as I would not take on this job in the first place if I know I cannot take hardship. It was not the hard work that made me quit, it was the workplace politics which I could not tolerate.
Transitioning: What future issues do you foresee if the government do not close down on our floodgate of hiring more foreigners in the work place?
Nicholas: As I mentioned earlier, I did not have a problem with foreigners and it just happened that the ones who got into trouble with me are foreign workers. As a matter of fact, I got along well with most of them except for a few troublemakers. Of course, the work place would be better for me if the workers are all locals as we would have common topics to talk about and same shared culture making it easier for assimilation but unfortunately in the F&B line, no locals would take the job as the pay is too low and working hours are too long which is perfectly normal.
Who would want to take a 1k pay job and work for 10 hours everyday? It not a matter of “cannot take hardship” or “soft”, it is practical reasoning that nobody inSingaporewould do such job.
Transitioning: What do you think that the government can do to encourage employers to hire more locals to work in shunned industry like the F & B sector?
Nicholas: Working hours are long and pay is low in the F&B line and it makes perfect sense why no locals would do the job and it is definitely not because we cannot take hardship, no work is easy in this world even if you are in the finance industry or other big earning jobs.
The government seem to do nothing about the situation and continue to hire cheap foreign workers to fill our places. They could have done something about it, like implementing the minimum wage system. In countries likeAustralia, for example, even their cleaners can earn $3000 a month and that is after tax!
The government can give all kind of excuses like minimum wage will scare investors away and the economy will eventually collapse. I don’t see countries likeAustraliaor other countries with minimum wage law collapsing. I don’t see what our government is paranoid about, all they want is for their investors to make big money, contributing to our GDP and hence expanding their own pockets, they have no interest of the people at heart.
So many families are earning barely enough to survive and nothing is being done to help them and they blame us for not having enough children when cost of living keeps increasing while our wages remain stagnant!
Transitioning: You mention that you have nowhere to turn to for arbitration when there is a work place dispute, what do you want to see improved here? Will having more unions supporting workers’ rights help?
Nicholas: Our unions are useless, they are all controlled by the government and workers’ union are not controlled by workers nor do they have workers interest at heart. There is no point approaching any unions about it. It is not like in other countries whereby every dispute can lead to protest and unions will then come out with better policies for the workers. InSingapore, there is no place to voice out unhappiness, we just go about doing our jobs blindly without asking questions.
Transitioning: What is your plan for yourself after quitting Han’s – do you also foresee that you will return to the F & B industry in the near future when the dust has settled? Will you now work for the government sector as encouraged by many who commented on your article?
Nicholas: As I mentioned earlier, I would be operating my own food stall as I love cooking. Working for the government has never been my option as suggested by many commenting on the article.
Transitioning: Lastly, as a local graduate, are you optimistic about your future inSingaporeand the opportunities that our country has provided?
Nicholas: I do not believe in what the government is telling us. They are telling us every few months that 20,000 jobs are being created.
But what kind of jobs are these?
They didn’t mention.
I have many friends who are graduates and they are still jobless, sitting at home and rejected in many job interviews.
Our government lies, our jobs are given to foreigners and unemployment figures are manipulated.
I doubt our unemployment rate is that low and I have no confidence in our government to make things better for local Singaporeans. Nothing irks me more than the pro-foreigner policy that our government adopts.
Money earns by the government is not reinvested into the country but instead they are used to attract foreigners, even those with dubious qualifications, toSingapore.
Locals students have to take large bank loans to finance their education while scholarships are given out to foreign students using taxpayers money and all they have to do is work 3 years in Singapore. Is this the Singaporean Dream that we talk about a lot in the past?
It is the only country in the world that I know whereby the foreigners benefit more than locals in many ways.
This is disappointing and I am disappointed with the government.
End of interview and thank you.Number of View: 7723