Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Thursday July 31st 2014

Jobless lady PMET approached MOM for unfair dismissal without avail

Transitioning continues to receive emails from the local workforce complaining about unfair dismissal.

To date, over the past years, we have received close to a hundred emails on such work place injustice which no government agency can really help.

Moreover, many local PMETs who approached government agencies such as MOM, TAFEP and  their unions, were  often told to co-operate with the employers to resolve workplace dispute or simply to seek for legal redress on their own.

Errant employers who knew about such loophole  have hire and fire our PMETs  fearing no repercussion.

Today, we featured an online interview with a young female jobless PMET who was fired indiscriminately by her employer.

She approached MOM about the matter and was told that they could not help her as she is an executive staff.

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Transitioning:. First of all, thanks Celine for allowing us to interview you online and can you provide us with some background information on yourself?

Celine – i have a degree and dip in marketing. worked for 9-10 years now, out of which 5.5 years was in marketing.

Transitioning What was  your last occupation and you have told me that you were unemployed for a few months, can you tell us more about this and also your job search experience?

Celine – My last job was a marketing manager with a small local distributor in Apple accessories.

 I was hired immediately after the interview as the MD/ business found me very suitable for the role. I worked, planned and delivered all the activities according to the business objectives set by the MD..

He had always been supportive of low cost sales activities and even suggested to buy some ads from Mediacorp. However when the sales did not come in after he committed the ads, he blamed me for not doing my job well when there were 2 sales managers whose responsibility was to bring in sales.

One fine day after a successful event planned and executed by me, he sent his HR and Ops manager to talk to me and told me that I was terminated because I did not know how to communicate with their customers and that I have no management skills.  

I was really offended because it came as a big surprise and insult to someone who had been dealing with local and regional customers for 5 years. And the very fact that there were no warnings of poor performance by me. Furthermore, the news came right after I finished planning the marketing budget and calendar from May to Dec 2012 and shared my relevant contacts with my MD upon request.

It just proved to show that this company had bad planning because they interviewed me and know my background well. Therefore how can they use my background against me when they decided to terminate me.

 A month later, I heard my executive from this same company was also asked to leave, reason being external business consultant advised MD to cut down on cost of Marketing team as business was not as good as planned.

After hearing my executive’s story, I was even more convinced that this company has poor planning and they were not honest. They terminated me just by saying I am not suitable and put me down but in actual fact, they cannot cope with the salaries committed for the whole marketing team.

I had spoken to MOM on this, but they were in no position to help me because I was at managerial level.

Transitioning:You have told me that you are currently jobless for more than six months, what did you do in order to survive? Did you also approach the CDC for assistance?

Celine: Since I left that small local distributor, I had not been working for 4.5 months. I took up temp jobs, did networking business and survived on my savings.

 I did not approach CDC and chanced upon transitional.org while reading the papers.

Transitioning. Did you attend any interviews  during the past few months  and why do you think you are unsuccessful so far?

Celine: I had attended over 20 interviews with agencies and companies directly. I think my main obstacle was my short stint with the last 2 companies.

Transitioning:Tell us abit more about what you have learnt from your jobless experience and how it has impacted your family.

Celine: I had learnt to be less trusting with people you work with, and to think a bit more especially with companies that paint a good picture during interviews to attract you into their company.

Recently, I heard from a CEO that some companies do that because they are desperate for staff, and if you think deeper, how will a good company end up being desperate for staff?

Transitioning: What do you think you could have done to shorten the unemployment period?

Celine:  Lower expectations as competition is steep in my line of work. But I never believe in lowering myself too much because potential employers may also think I have a big problem or I am not so good that’s why I lower myself. This is always a struggle when you have been unfairly dismissed and when you are in transition.

Most employers also do not believe how people can take breaks which is weird. For example, I went to an established firm for interview, the Project Director’s first question to me was: “Why are you jobless at the age of 29?”

You cannot be too open during interviews to let them know about your plight, but if you do not tell them, they will judge you anyway.

Transitioning: Do you think that Singapore is now a more difficult place to make a living?

Celine: There are plenty of jobs out there frankly especially in my line of work. Most companies need sales/ marketing staff. It’s just whether one can find a suitable one.

Transitioning:  What do you think the government can do to alleviate the current employment situation?

Celine: No comment on this. 

Transitioning: Many people have blame foreigners for competing jobs with us, what is your view on this?

Celine: Actually I do not blame foreigners, many Singaporeans also choose to go overseas and compete with others. That’s a fact. And from business point of view, if you can spend less to hire better attitude and more hardworking staff, why not? 

The people to be blamed should be unethical business owners with no integrity. Especially those who loves to hire and fire! 

Transitioning: Lastly, whats your advice for those who are still jobless and feeling down? 

Celine: Change your mindset, be open and never give up! 

Thanks and end of interview

Reader Feedback

7 Responses to “Jobless lady PMET approached MOM for unfair dismissal without avail”

  1. whiz says:

    Celine’s plight highlights a major loophole that is pervasive in the government’s categorization of Professional, Manager and Executives. The government constantly churns out statistics on PMEs, formulates employment policy & guidelines on PMEs and does social research on PMEs with their subsequent findings feeding back into the ministry’s policy making. Yet at the end of the day, there is totally no hard definition at all what exactly is a “manager” or “professional”.

    For instance take Celine’s case, on paper she sounds like a high flying professional, being a marketing manager at the tender age of 29. MOM’s stance seems to be since you are such a hot shot, you should be able to work out any disagreements with the company. Yet based on experience, I know many local SMEs distributorships are simply abusing titles and slapping fancy sounding designations on name cards to make the employee & customers feel good.

    When trouble comes, they just simply say since Celine is a “manager” she needs to meet KPIs, demonstrate leadership skills, think strategic if she want to keep the job. Yet in real fact, Celine like all SME “managers” is probably paid the equivalent of a exec/officer in a MNC. There is totally nothing managerial about her employment terms and conditions except for a useless title.

    Nowadays I have seen young turks being paid as low as 3-5k calling themselves “managers” when they are clearly just snr exec/officer at best. These fake managers are clearly at a disadvantage when negotiating with companies and cannot afford a prolonged litigation with their employers in the event of a contractual dispute. MOM needs to offer better protection and define a clear cut off point like >10k monthly = managers and not just go solely on business title and lump everyone as “PME”.

  2. jj@39 says:

    Spend some time surfing the job portals e.g jobstreet n jobsdb.

    you will see some companies are paying $1500-$2000 for executive posiions; some companies are paying $2000-2500 for manager positions.

  3. whiz says:

    Hi jj@39,

    If what you say is true, this title inflation problem is even worse than I thought. $2000-$2500 is lower than a lot of fresh grads and like that also can call “manager”?

    Looks like this is a SME tactic to avoid paying OT and get around the employment act by exaggerating low level job to sound much more senior

  4. jj@39 says:

    S’pore doesn’t have minimum wage policy, it is up to the companies to decide what wage they want to give to the jobseekers.

    No only u can see such title inflation problem on job portals. u can sometime see it on newspapers job ad too. Not only SME, even MNC will do this too.

    Some IT or engineering companies will give employees job title of engineer but the wage is just $2500 or less.
    E.g. fujifilm hunt chemical will hire jobseekers as senior sales exeutives but gave them assistant sales manager titles hoping the job titles will give them conveniency when approaching others for biz opportunity. U thought he is a manager but actually he is not.

    Some companies will not give employees some glamour job titles n high wage but jobseekers have to be been in charge of many things. Exploitation n unemployment.

  5. sal says:

    I don’t mind getting paid $5k monthly and give me title of technical assistant. ..Important I can do the job and the money is good.

  6. Anon says:

    This Celine is still living in denial. Mass influx of foreigners not a problem?? Legs-open policy not an issue??

    Let me tell you point blank that the above PAP policies are exactly what is contributing to your situation.

    PAPies sets the tone and has given over-powering rights to the employers & companies to hire and fire. With endless supply of younger and cheaper workers, employers even MNCs have no compunction to fire people whenever sales go down a little bit, or to pay uni grads $2K salary.

    You not happy?? Too bad, for every 1 of you not happy, the companies got 10,000 young eager foreigners to choose from.

    That’s why Celine is still unable to “find a suitable job” even though “there are plenty of jobs out there”. Either the pay is too low e.g. $2.5K for her level of experience, or unreasonable job demands e.g. boss expects you to work at least 10-12 hours daily, and must work and clear emails during weekends and public holidays, and remain on-call and contactable at all times.

    Many foreigners are happy to take on the above job demands becoz what they earn here is equal to 8X-10X their pay back home. If I’m getting $30,000 a month salary, I also won’t mind working 12 hrs a day and toughing it out for 5 years.

  7. Sinkie pawned Sinkie says:

    The fact 1 million foreigners in singapore is a big problem.
    This group of 1 million+ foreigners are taking jobs from singaporeans

    and

    Celine thinks that is not a problem.
    Singaporeans do go overseas and work
    but their government are protective over their people.
    Try taking jobs in UK, US, Australia or New Zealand.

    Celine, if you don’t blame the foreigners, then you shouldn’t blame your ex-bosses that fire you.

    Afterall, they are running a business for profitablity.
    Regardless whether they are good management or not, is secondary. You are just a statistic number in the payroll.

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