I have been visiting the transitioning website for almost 6 months now. Recently, I read from the comments that there seem to be a shift towards other issues such as racial discrimination and politics instead of focusing on helping those who are jobless or those who have family problems. I have been selective in reading the articles. For those articles that I am interested in, I will read the details and comments, while for the rest, I will just read the headlines. I also realized that you have removed the ST column recently. I will always use the link to go to read some ST news whenever I visit the website.
Initially, I found solace in knowing that there are other people who are in similar situations as me. There are also some who are even much more unfortunate than me. I think many jobless people turn to seek advice and comfort from your website after numerous failed attempts in seeking help from the CDCs or e2i. There are many who turn to the career counsellors/coaches as a last resort. They can provide as with a listening ear or advice, but I feel that ultimately, we have to help ourselves to solve our own problems. I feel that being jobless is a source for other problems for most of us. At the end of the day, we are expected to be self-reliant and self-sufficient.
Life is like a board game. Sometimes you move forward 3 steps and step back 2 steps. You can put in a lot of effort to reach the finishing line, but the obstacles along the way may move you back to square one again. Some people can reach the finishing line fast without much effort, while others struggle along the way, moving back and fro. I think many people would not want to be jobless if there are other better options available. We are just victims of circumstances through no fault of ours. For some people, they may feel very desperate and depressed after being jobless for 2 months, while some are resigned to their fate after being jobless for 2 years. There are also temps or contract workers who have a roller coaster ride of being in and out of jobs. There seem to be no job security in the world and it is a vicious cycle of eking out a decent living amid the ever increasing high costs of living.
As a Chinese Singaporean, I have even faced racial discrimination in a workplace before. The incident happened in 2007. I was jobless for some time and out of desperation, I worked as a temp clerk in a company for about 3 to 4 months for about $1k per month. There were 2 other Malay clerks there and they always spoke to each other in Malay. They liked to speak and laugh loudly among themselves. Though I couldn’t understand a word, I could sense that they were poking fun at me and laughing away. I was unhappy but I just kept quiet and did my work. I couldn’t be bothered with what they were saying. They always went for lunch together without asking me along. I guessed they had many secrets to share among themselves and would not be comfortable with me around. Thus, I always ate alone. Anyway, I would rather eat alone than become a subject of ridicule during their boredom.
When the boss was on an overseas trip, they would go for a long lunch lasting 1.5 hr and knocked off 15 mins or even much earlier. They also asked me to go home earlier but I refused and asked them to go ahead. Even if I got nothing to do, I would wait for the official time to knock off. I was afraid that the recruitment agent would find fault with me for skiving and docked my pay. They also liked to take leave on some Mondays after spending their weekends with their families at the beach. Hence, I was forced to take leave on those Mondays since they won’t be around in the office with me. The problem is that as a temp, my leave was unpaid but they had the liberty to take their annual leave. To avoid trouble, I didn’t voice out my grievances to the agent. I think the agents are more inclined to help the employers than the employees.
When the boss was around, they would work a bit of OT sometimes. A day before the boss was to return from his overseas trip, I remembered that they were rushing their work and left later than me. After I found another job, I gave one of them a week’s notice verbally. She was angry and asked me why I didn’t inform her earlier. In actual fact, as a temp, I only need to give her a day’s notice instead of a week’s notice. I also just found the job and they hoped that I could start asap. Anyway, I had also completed my job before I left and there would be nothing for me to do even if I stayed on. I was very unhappy during that period in my life and just tolerated them for the sake of $$.
I feel obliged to give you my story because there are always 2 sides to a coin. I think everyone will be discriminated in one form or another through no fault of theirs in this world. We just have to make the best out of the worst scenarios. Ultimately, as long as our conscience is clear, we shouldn’t be bothered about the untruths that people say about us.
I understand from some comments that there are people who are unhappy that you are deviating from the focus of helping the jobless to the issue of racial discrimination. Maybe you can publish some articles about how people overcome discrimination, either racial or otherwise, from the workplace. I think many people need to draw strength and inspiration from those successful stories instead of merely being informed that such situations exist in our society today. Maybe while you exposed the errant employers, you can also published employers with good records who may be willing to employ the jobless and even provide training for free.
Thanks for your time. If you want to publish my letter, please change my name.