I just don’t like it and I don’t know why…maybe I am being too patriotic here.
How some local employers could slam our own local workers blatantly for being soft and whimpy even though some part of it is justifiable.
To make matters worse, I have seen how local workers in transition job hopped as if there is no tomorrow and the world owns them a living.
Job hopping culture
I also have problem assisting them if they became serial job hoppers and it became such a serious problem that employers are forced to hire more dependable foreign workers as they can enforce them to work for at least two years during their contractual period.
They can’t do that to local workers who will quit their positions anytime and anyhow - especially those from the Generation Y group.
Maybe they have a reliable nest at home whereby their parents can feed them even if they are out of work for a long time.
Some locals who left their jobs at the slightest excuse also do not help the tight labour situation one bit especially when employers now have an abundant supply of workers from the whole of South East Asia to choose from.
But does the fault lies primarily with our local workers or do employers themselves have to share part of the job hopping blame?
One particular PMET I know don’t like to work on Saturday and so she left after working for about a month. She also dislikes doing sales and one wonders why she took up the job in the first place.
Of course, her low pay of $1600 does not provide her much incentive to stay on especially as she has a degree from a private institution to back her up.
She is also unhappy with the foreigner-majority work force though she admitted that some of them are nicer to her than local workers.
Difference between foreign and local workers
Coming back to the topic about how I felt when local bosses criticised our local workers.
Though local bosses provided very logical and reasonable feedback on the bad attitude of our local workers - I still felt slighted when our own kind talked bad against his own people.
They could even provide anedoctal evidence to back up their allegations.
One textile company wrote in recently and the boss told me that if not for the foreign workers he hired, his business will flounder and even close down as local workers could not stay on long in his company which works 5 1/2 day.
Suffice to say, his small company is now filled with all foreign workers.
Many large MNCs now hire predominantly foreign workers with only less than 10% consisting of local hiring. It is a rare sight now to find private companies fill with local-majority hiring,
Any sharp sudden drop in quota for foreign hiring will adversely affect the manpower staffing for any private company now. It is probably this reason why transitioning suddenly receives so many requests for assistance in manpower staffing as three months ago MOM annouces the 5% drop across the board in the dependency foreign ratio quota.
Naturally, the local bosses whom I spoke with recently, justified the large foreign presence by openly criticising our local workers – mostly for not being able to withstand work pressure even though the company has tried its best to give them a chance.
Nowadays, when companies hire our local workers – it is done so because they are given a chance to prove themselves. If not, they will be replaced by foreign workers.
Have our local workers suddenly grow lazy and underperformed so badly that they are now being discarded by our private companies?
It is as if they have to bend some rules in order to hire our own local workers!
You seldom hear that from other nationalities – people of their own kind criticising one another openly even though its the truth.
Filipinos are known to be very united and they all go out in groups often taking care of each other’s welfare. That is probably why they can survive working abroad all this while with well over ten millions of them overseas.
They like to move in packs and soon will gang up against the lone local worker who will be ousted out in no time.
When I worked in Sydney, the Australians seldom speak ill of their own people even though they are evidently less hardworking than Asians.
In fact, Asians have to work harder to compensate for the lack of drive in the work ethics of some local Aussies in the work place.
On most Friday afternoon, when local Aussie workers will disappear in the afternoon for their weekly pint, Asian workers tend to stay behind and finish off their own work plus that of the Aussie workers.
Employers there also tend to hire back their own people and after filling them up sufficiently, theu will then start to look at foreign workers – normally Asians who are known to be more hardworking.
Quota for PMET foreign hiring?
It still irks me alot when I see a foreigner helming the receptionist seat in a company. Don’t we have enough locals who are capable of taking on the position of a receptionist?
A receptionist is the first person that a business visitor will see before he ventures into the office area and when a foreigner fronts the desk, it speaks volume of the philosophy and mentality of a company.
It is timely that MOM starts to re-look at the quota system which provides employers the impetus to hire predominantly foreign workers who are known to be more hardworking and diligent.
Most of them frankly have no choice unless they sacrifice their 2-year work permit of which they have to pay back tons of compensation to the employment agent and even loans back home secured to send them here in the first place.
There will come a time when all private companies will hire predominantly foreign workers leaving our local workers out in the cold.
It should look at restricting jobs such as receptionist, administrator or human resource manager to locals. We are in serious danger now of being systematically replace by foreigners at the work places.
Moreover, by always comparing our own workers with foreigners, it is not only degrading but also unfair as both of them come with different needs and asspirations.
Eroding work ethics of local workers?
I remembered only about a decade and a half ago that our workers used to be voted the world’s most productive worker and have we suddenly lost that edge in us that we are now labelled lazy and soft by local employers?
Maybe, the younger generation has being brain washed too much by our government to go for better work life balance and so when we have to work on Saturday and weekend for too long, we threw in the towel even though its a lucrative paying job.
The Generation Y youngsters are different from those belonging to the baby boomers age group – they don’t like to work too hard for money and career leaving them with no time for their hobbies, family and rest.
They prefer a company that treasures work life balance – you work hard during office hours but don’t touch me when its off duty.
I used to work on Saturday half a day when I was a civil servant for 11 years – without complaining as it was the norm then to work half a day on Saturday.
Nowadays, I barked when someone told me that he has to work on Saturday – usually a SME trying to generate more revenue from putting in extrawork on a Saturday.
The work aspiration and movation between the local and foreign workers are also poles apart.
Why foreigners are much more hardworking than locals
I remembered speaking with one Indian PR recently who has a NUS MBA degree. He told me that even with his high qualification and solid work experience, the best salary he could expect from working in India is probably only $400.
Compared with the average pay of $4000/month he could expect from any company wanting to hire him, its almost ten times of what he could command if he works in India!
You pay me ten times of what I could earn here in any part of the globe and I will pump in ten times the amount of effort in my work for you!
Employers must understand that when they compare foreigners with locals they are being very unfair.
It is also not nice to speak ill of your own people however horrible they are in the work place – to another fellow Singaporean or worse to a foreigner.
I knew that some employers use this tactic to convince MOM to allow them to hire more foreigners – who are seen as dependable and more hungry for work as compared to our local workers.
They would tabulate all the resignation letters of local staff and used them as bargaining chips so that MOM will approve all their foreign work permit passes.
Employers must also remember that foreigners have all the intrinsic drive to work harder than locals due firstly to the opportunity factor and mostly because out strong currency has provided the impetus for them to strive harder despite the over-worked mentality prevailing in most SMEs and some MNCs.
For example, Malaysian workers like to work here as when they convert our currency to send back home, its almost 2.4 time now due to our strong dollar. For Filipinos, PRC Chinese and Indians, the currency conversion is even much more lucrative.
For local employers, I promise I won’t bark at you the next time you criticise my countrymen even though it is justifiable but I will remind you that if we are not united, the whole country will go down…
We can’t simply speak badly against one another anymore just because he could not perform at the work place but we must find creative ways to uplift the person and try to help him to cope if the job stress gets too much into him.
That’s the better spirit…
Written by: Gilbert Goh