Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Adding salt to the wound.

This post is not about hating foreign workers, don’t want them to come Singapore or things like that. It is about the reality of situation that is happening.

To start off, I will share with you about a fine I got today, then about me, in the landscape industry, trying to change the thought of contract owners in employing Singaporeans, like how other country is doing for tree surgery work.

Ok, went downstairs after dinner for a smoke with mask during covid outside the provision shop, wanted to buy some cold drinks. I took my time enjoying the puff, looking at the trees around and many shops closed. There are still some people hanging out there. I can understand their stress… I saw 2 young dark skin guys walking around as if they are looking for an address to go to. They have their backpack with them and mask. Looking at the tree, I was thinking to do a lesson for my students this Friday on what I can show them during this COVID circuit breaker season. I would usually dump my butt somewhere neat but I throw them into the nearby drain. When I was browsing for the drinks, the 2 ‘lost’ dark skin guys came over and said, excuse me… I thought they are young foreign workers that lost their way and at this time they should be in their dorm. Serious.. sorry to say being dark skin but that’s what I want to say. Because everyday I am handling things with young foreign workers.

And so, excuse me… I am from the NEA, you threw your cigg butt into your drain, can I have your IC?

so I gave them, I told them don’t go away, I am getting some drinks.

I bought some cold packet drinks, some stout, line up to pay, that’s about 7-10mins. I come back to them and they are still keying in data from my IC. I said, covid season, can u quickly take a pic of my IC and do what ever you want so I can go back fast. Then they bring out a wireless printer to issue me the fine…. Explaining to me whats what. I ask them, can I see your pass clearly? One on right showed me he is from NEA, the left on is from cisco, doing video recording.

When they want to return me the IC and the fine slip, request them to sanitize the ic, leave the IC and the fine slip on the floor and they should leave, keeping social distancing.

Serve me right. I should not have litter. Its S$300. Ministry of Finance just gave every adult Singaporeans $600 for this Covid situation. Very kind of them and we always receive perks when near election period.

So, about me trying to change the industry by advocating the service buyer in implementing using local workforce.

I work in a tree management company. In 2013, one of my landscape friend got a 3 years job in a famous park. He need to set up a tree work team. Very nice of him to hire me to be his trainer and I get paid S$1500 monthly to set up his tree work team. I helped him with his current resources. I managed to train up 2 good foreign workers to execute tree maintenance and managing the need of the park management. 

In 2016, my friend got the contract again but with bigger area. He is having headache where to deploy his current team. I told him, Mr X, why not I do the tree maintenance for you in this park and you deploy your guys to other contract places, with a fee of $xxx. Ok, I got a good deal and he was a gentlemen. What I did was to gather some of my Singaporean friends to join me as tree surgeon to manage this place. I also told the parks manager what is my plan, they said, we shall see, make sure you can carry out the works as before.

The team consist of 2 full time surgeon and myself. Sometimes I bring in Singaporean interns to do some odd work and teach them as much as possible. They work 7am-5pm Monday to Friday. For urgent issues happening on sat and Sunday, I will get some others to settle.

I walked around the contract area, they are all foreign workers. I asked, they say the park management prefers foreign workers because they are more willing to carry out instructions and able to work for long hours. True.

I am the only tree maintenance company in Singapore that employs local young, educated workforce. I want to show to the whole industry that this is possible, like how other countries did, perhaps other than middle east countries. Then with this, it can influence contract owners and business owners on decision making, paying $4-6k a month to a professional tree surgeon to make trees safe in a productive manner.

No.. I failed. After 10 months, I was sacked from the contract. MR X says that my performance is not good from the feedback of the park management. The way I managed the trees is and operation is not what they want. They prefer the foreign workers to be more straight to listen to their instructions. Yes, I debated on issues but it can be solved. The whole reason is the operations have to suit the contract and hiring Singaporeans. My negotiation failed.

I was asked to leave. I told Mr X: I hired these people to serve your contract, we don’t go outside to do part time work, now you ask us to leave, how am I going to answer to their family? Mr X said: ask them to join my company. For your information, in the landscape industry, for every Singaporean that we can hire (pay above $1350), we can get a quota to hire a foreign worker.

For those that have traveled before, to first world countries… have you seen many foreign workers? Cost of living is high, but the money goes back to our Singaporean pocket.

What’s worst. When I told the industry engagement agency that the only company in Singapore that hire all locals to carry out tree maintenance is going to disband because this and that. You guess what they tell me?

To be continued.

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