Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Thursday April 24th 2014

Jobless engineer terminated unfairly by PRC Chinese boss and replaced by a Indian foreigner

Transitioning has seen a few unfair dismissal cases recently and the growing trend is disturbing as such cases usually  involve  well-educated Singaporeans who are mostly in their forties.

More significantly, they do not have a union to represent them during a very trying period of their employment and usually gave in to the company’s demands who are behaving like  big bullies.

I have always  advised disenchanted  executives  to  seek assistance from Ministry of Manpower who usually arbitrates for them successfully.

Seldom do such unfair dismissal cases go to the open court as it does not help anyone involves in the case. Companies also want to avoid bad publicity as it will involve an adverse  reputation tag  for them as well if the case goes out in the open.

Moreover, reinstallation of the  sacked executive  looks unpromising given the fact that most of such dismissal cases were carried out bitterly  and acriminously.

Most of these executives just want  a fair severance package from their previous  companies  and also to clear their good name if possible.

There is alot of pride and hurt involves in an unfair dismissal case especially if it  is unwarranted and unjustified.

I met up with Johnson recently – another highly-educated engineer who was unceremoniously  dismissed from his multi-national company together with another local engineering colleague.

Both were shown the door early last week -  given one month’s notice using the contractual method. They have worked in the company for more than five years.

The fact that both were local engineers and above 45 years old also infuriated them as they suspected that  they are being targetted for replacement due to their seniority and age.

Their high pay structure is also one huge factor as MNCs now can hire cheaper foreign talents by the hundreds using the Employment Pass permit.

The company is also accused by the sacked executives  of trying to save up on retrenchment benefit.

It did not help that the whole company is invaded by  permanent residents, foreign talents and very few  local Singaporeans. That is probably why the two sacked Singaporean engineers felt targetted.

Their new boss – a local PRC Chinese, asked them to buck up or ship out earlier this year but both of them decided to hang on as they were not under-performing as alleged by the company.

Using a under-handed tactic and threatening them with Performance Indicator Plan (PIP), the company hoped that they would resign on their own accord – a provened technique used by many companies to drive executives to resign on their own as if not termination due to poor performance will suffice.

Many executives fall for the ruse and resign on their own accord to save face.

Moreover, it is not wise to work on if you are not appreciated by your own bosses and it is far better to move out respectfully and look for another job.

Johnson and his ex-colleague hung on as they felt that they are entitled to severance package and moreover they are still working well in the company.

The severance money is no small feat especially when one of them has worked for more than ten years in the company and could come up to a tidy six figure sum.

The Ministry of Manpower website has this to say about severance payment:-

Under the Employment Act, an employee who has been employed in a company for at least three years can request for retrenchment benefits if he/she is retrenched.

As the law does not stipulate the quantum to be paid, the amount is subject to negotiation between the employee and employer. The quantum will also depend on the company’s financial position.

An employee who has worked less than three years in a company is not entitled to retrenchment benefits under the Employment Act. However, the company may pay an ex-gratia payment at its discretion.

Both retrenchment benefits and ex-gratia payments do not attract CPF contributions.

What irked Johnson is that failing to kick them out using the dreadful PIP excuse, the company now terminated them using the contractual term stated in their contract i.e. terminating an employee’s service given one month of notice.

“It is not right to use such under-handed tactic to let go of long serving executives,” Johnson retorted.

“I am ready to go but please be fair to us. We also have a family to raise and the severance package is just nice to tide  over before I could find back another job.”

Johnson also realised that his age could be one main reason why he is being replaced  together with his colleague as the company wants new young blood to refresh the company’s reorgansational plan.

Already, before he left, he got wind that his replacement will be someone from   India – something which  rubs more  salt into his gaping wounds.

As Singapore continues to grabble with the huge influx of foreign workers in our midst who compete head on with us for jobs,  our labour law needs to be tightenend so that our local PMETs will receive better protection from unscrupulous employers out to replace us with cheaper younger foreigners.

If not, we will see more jobless well-educated PMETs looking for work fruitlessly and eventually becoming a huge social problem for the country.

Written by: Gilbert Goh

Editor’s Note: Johnson will be making a complaint to MOM soon with his colleague.

Reader Feedback

10 Responses to “Jobless engineer terminated unfairly by PRC Chinese boss and replaced by a Indian foreigner”

  1. Max says:

    Gilbert, your take on the issue is very refreshing, clear and objective. It is a pleasure to read your case analysis.

    I applaud Johnson’s tenacity to pursue the matter with MOM. The ending as in most cases is that MOM’s hands being tied, can only negotiate a better severance pay, usually somewhere 50-50 to make the situation win-win for both.

    But what we really want, as Gilbert pointed out, is for the government to really tighten the influx of cheap foreign labor so that bad companies can no longer mistreat the Singaporean workforce.

    This is where we need MOM to play a greater part to feedback to the Labor Minister (strange, after so long message don’t seem to get through) to take pro-active action.

    Meanwhile let’s wait for the outcome of this case.

    • benny says:

      Basically,Singapore today is ruled by a capitalist govt,NOT a socialist govt so Singaporean employees are at a disadvantaged and so don’t expect much help from a capitalist MOM !!!

  2. anon says:

    Under s’pore laws, the company didn’t commit any offence and it is entitled to sack anybody giving 1 month’s notice or salary in-lieu, without having to give any reason whatsoever. That means you can be excellent worker and getting Grade A annual appraisal and big yearly performance bonuses, and still get 1-month termination notice. This clause is written into practically all employment contracts and letters of employment in s’pore. Go check your own. Of course, if you are bringing in millions of profits for company, chances are they won’t sack you for nothing. But if you are working in a cost centre, with high pay and getting above 40, than watch out!

    Furthermore, there is no legal obligation for companies in s’pore to give retrenchment benefits. It is entirely up to company whether want to give or not, and also how much — they can just give $1 also can.

    Also note that in this case, company can argue that it is not retrenchment, but termination as duly exercised by the company as stipulated in the employment letter. Or termination due to poor performance and they can dig out HR records to support the company.

    At end of the day, MOM can only support the 2 chaps only superficially. MOM will mail very matter-of-fact letter to the company requesting for more info and to arrange for both parties to meet at MOM. That’s all they can do.

    Outcome depends on whether the company is scared of MOM or not. Or whether some officials can impress upon the company (verbally & off the record of course) that if it doesn’t cooperate, then future applications by the company for foreign workers will take more time, more cross-checks, etc.

  3. Mark says:

    I once worked for a Swiss translation company in Singapore. When the American CEO found out my colleague was pregnant, he immediately tried all means and ways to force her out. The legal loophole is that if you are sacked six months before your expected date of delivery, the employer is not liable to pay you paid maternity leave, and MOM can’t do much for you.

    This is her giving an anonymous interview on Today:

    http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC120227-0000022/When-having-a-baby-changes-your-life-,,,

  4. Deadly Virus says:

    Well, nothing new.

    More Singaporeans losing their jobs.
    More votes goes to the opposition.

    The biggest loser in the next election is – PAP.

    From 60 percent down to below 50 percent.

    I will be extremely happy when the votes are down.

  5. SAF says:

    Hi Gilbert,

    I’m a regular visitor to your site, as I’m suffering the pain that a lot of Singaporeans are going through.

    I just wanted to comment on your top paragraph “We have verified that some of the dismissals were generated to replace them with foreign talents.”

    Please remove the word “talents” from this sentence, as these foreigners are not talented at all. Despite what the government says, these people are very average and they are just good at stealing jobs of Singaporeans.

    Thanks.

  6. charmer says:

    Two years ago, we estimated that 44% of Singapore’s workforce are non-citizens.

    Well, we were wrong.

    The actual figure is 45.4%, a little higher than our estimate!

    Published in today’s Business Times (2 May) are the numbers for the breakdown of our labour force as at June 2010:

    There were 1,712,600 Singaporeans (“citizens”), 334,700 permanent residents (“PRs”) and 1,088,600 foreigners in the labour force as at June 2010.

    If we group PRs together with foreigners — rightfully so because PRs aren’t citizens if you ask me — there are a total of 1,423,300 non-citizens among the total workforce of 3,135,900 workers.

    1423300 / 3135900 = 45.39%

    So, non-citizen foreigners make up 45.4% of Singapore’s workforce.

    [Source]: http://www.salary.sg

  7. Sal says:

    i think most F/T boss prefer F/T workers as they are more a “YES” man compared to the local……waiting at home 24/7 to be call-in for OT.

  8. winston chu says:

    hi

    i run an electronics design sme.

    looking for an electronics engineer.

    we have 5 day work week.

    age is not a barrier.

    pse send yr contact :
    wilson196043@yahoo.com

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