Dear Gilbert,

I have always been an avid reader of articles from your website as it exposes the truth in Singapore about unemployment and unfair dismissals and areas which have been overlooked. I am writing in to report an incident which happened to my friend Zen.

Zen was working for a small medical company under a FT boss for four months.

When Zen went for the interview for the position at that company, he was told that the company does require its employees to work overtime, however that was a rare occurrence, in accordance to what the HR personnel told him.

This was written on the contract that he signed, so when he asked the HR manager why there needed to be such a clause and was given the reply mentioned above.

When he started working, he started to realise that the HR has not been telling the truth.

The company is understaffed (because of a boss who want to maximise profits), and so in the area my friend was working there were only two other colleagues).

Every day or every alternate day, Zen, Yan and another colleague (X) have to work unpaid overtime hours of minimum 1-2 hours (sometimes even up to 3-4 hours), even working on off days and public holidays because the company wanted to earn more money from its clients.

Most of the time X would push the overtime work to Zen and Yan.

There is zero profit sharing in this company so all money earned, goes straight into the company’s earnings.

When Zen started work in that department, he was given all sorts of responsibilities and duties by an FT colleague, X who was supposedly the boss’s pet and a senior employee there.

Initially X was very nice to Zen.

X told him that he appreciated him alot and was going to train him to be of great help to the company.

However time would prove that X has a Dr Jekyll and Hyde personality.

Often times X will scold Zen and the other colleague, Yan for being slow.

In X’s eyes, only he himself is perfect. Everyone else is of lesser calibre and are inferior to X , even if their educational qualifications surpasses X.

When X made mistakes, and forgot to do her job properly, Zen and Yan did not find fault with X or penalise him for it. Neither did they go to the management to report about him.

However, every little thing which was of no harm to the company or its growing database of clients e.g. why did you change the desktop colour scheme, was blown up into huge proportions by X.

X would make a big hoo-haa and find fault with them over it.

In X’s eyes, the changing of desktop colour scheme meant that Zen and Yan were openly going against X.

Other issues included “why did the office cleaner greet u good morning”, “you must be a lazy bum because you have so much free time to say good morning to the office cleaner etc”, “you cannot go to lunch with colleagues from other departments because they’re all gossip mongers, I advise u to stay away from them”.

And then when a colleague from another department forgot her things and left it behind and Z went to return it, Zen was scolded by X for being a busybody.

To X’s perception, whoever leave behind their belongings, that’s their issue.

Dont need to bother telling them or returning the items to them because they’re from the other department. There’s no need for kindness or courtesy.

When Yan was sick or had relative which passed away and had to take leave, X would complain to the management that he was faking it.

X always loved to badmouth and backstab each colleague when the other colleague wasn’t around, particularly to the management.

X also threw fits and tantrums and always threatened Zen and Yan that they could be replaced anytime with someone cheaper and better than them.

Before X went on a one and a half month annual leave, X promised Zen that he would tell the boss that Z has passed the working requirements after X return back from leave.

So, even though the workplace was understaffed and the two people were overworked; Zen still kept coming to work, under the false impression given that hard work, being a responsible worker and helping out the company at the expense of health and off days, will be rewarded.

Many times Zen was sick and still went to work because he is a responsible person and was told by the HR that they needed his help due to X’s absence.

However, the outcome was not a happy ending.

Before X went on annual leave. X collaborated with another FT (who works in the HR department) to hire another employee to replace Zen’s position.

Two weeks before X’s return from annual leave, the admin interviewed two to three potential new employees .

Zen and Yan were told lies that due to the company’s expansion, the company was going to to hire more employees so that the workload will be lesser.

Last week, when X came back from annual leave, X started bullying them again.

X kept telling them that they are not good enough (after X made use of them to cover X’s workload during X’s long absence from work) and started nit picking on all the small issues again.

Before X went for leave, X started to have slight improvements on attitude towards the two, and both of them trusted that X would be fair to them in terms of work appraisal.

Then again the non-stop dissatisfactions and complaints started after X’s return.

The scolding from X just because of small issues e.g. why didnt you place the stationeries in a certain place etc.

Zen fell sick due to overwork and was given three days medical leave by the doctor but only took two.

X was angry with Zen for falling sick and started sending SMSes which tone and content implied that he was a troublemaker, just because X wanted to claim another off day immediately after X’s return from annual leave and Z’s MC was in his way.

Then when Zen went back to work after medical leave , X disappeared for one hour during work when X was supposed to be working and serving clients.

At the later end of the day, X asked Zen to go for a company meeting, in which X openly badmouthed him to all possible intent and demeaned him in front of the boss and management.

Because of X being the FT boss’s pet and of the same nationality of the boss, the management refused to listen to Zen and Yan’s defense, explanation and feedback of the unfair treatment which was going on.

X even purposely made Yan leave before the meeting started because he knew the truth that both of them were being unfairly treated and that both would speak up on the unfair treatment which was happening, and thus overturning X’s story.

X not only was ungrateful towards the two, but was the perpetrator behind the management’s decision to ask Zen to resign (because they had found a cheaper alternative who could fill in Zen’s role, and they had already exploited and fully made use of Zen, to every possible intent, during X’s absence).

The reason why I am writing this , is to warn every Singaporean local-born citizen, of what is going to happen or what is currently happening in the workplace nowadays.

It could happen to anyone- you or me.

Zen and Yan could be our friends , relatives or even family members who are currently facing this sort of unjust treatment at the work place.

In this case, it shows a living example of foreigners ( X, the FT admin and the FT boss) bullying and outcasting locals.

It also shows unfair treatment, workplace discrimination and not recognising an employee’s contribution to the company.

And the company making a crucial decision which affects Zen’s life greatly, just by listening to one side (X’s version) of the story.

All in all there’s a lesson to be learnt…

Not all organisations will emphasize on a fair working place.

Before going to sign on a contract, read carefully the small words on the contract.

Do not believe what the HR manager tells you if what is written on the contract looks to be dubious and of no benefit to you or, deprives you of benefits e.g. bonuses, salary increments , sick leave.

What can and what is the government doing about such unfair practices and discrimination in the working place?

Are MOM rules and TAFEP really useful , or are they just easily flouted by non-compliant companies who exploit their employees to every single extent.

What are the measures that TAFEP and MOM are putting in place to clamp down on such rampant exploitation of employees?

Just my two cents worth of views,

A friend of Zen and Yan

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