THE TEMASEK TIMES

News and views from an unique perspective

Painful experience of a local PMET working in financial sector

Posted by temasektimes on March 16, 2012

Globalisation has reared its ugly head in Singapore for the past few years and many PMETs increasingly find themselves being replaced by cheaper workers from abroad.

I am just an ordinary true blue Singaporean who started work in the private sector in  1998 after having completed my Navy contract of six and a half years.

I wished to share my painful experience of  globalization in the financial sector – an industry that I have worked in for the past ten years.

I started as a contract IT engineer working in the local bank for almost 5 years since year 2000.  They name this contract job as “Fixed Time Hirer” meaning that the contract would only be renewed  yearly based on your service and performance.   Talked about a lack of job security here…

I have given my utmost best  to the clients I served and also taken a lot of projects from time to time to allow the employers to know that I am a good employee.

During this period, I was hoping to join them as a permanent staff  after working with them for so many years but regardless of how much effort I have put into my work, they would not consider me for a permanent role.

After 2 years, another IT company bade  for the contract and was successfully  awarded  the IT servicing agreement. We have to transit to this new company after negotiating the hiring agreement.

It has been a rough transition as there were many parties involved in amending the changes and processes eg IT policies , risks, services and charges.

After a while,  I resigned from the company as I knew that  the vicious cycle of politicking will never end even though  I love the job scope over there.

Fortunately, I have already found an permanent  IT job in one of the Swiss Investment Bank.  It was fine during the first and second year and  due to the career “mobility program” that the company has implemented across all departments  and also based on  my good performance –  eventually I moved over to a permanent role called  London Trade Support which required night shift duties.

Everything went smooth sailing until the year 2009  when  Lehman went down which led to Asian financial crisis but there is minimal  impact on my firm as they do not need any bailout from the government.

Surprisingly,  they made an announcement in May 2009 that  the whole operation department –  which consisted  of 200 plus mostly-local  headcount – will be deployed by departmental level  to India,

By Oct 2009, many cheaper  faster Indian foreigners were sitting side by side with us  for  hands-on  training conducted  by soon-to-be-jobless local Singaporeans.  The feeling is sickening to say the least.

Next, the management informed us to do a mobility interview so that we could be re deployed to India.

Many of us were also unsure how the mobility interview  will turn out as it is perceived as a political game played to smoothen the attrition process. Ultimately, I believe, that most of us will be retrenched in due time.

There is another minority group of people who really struggled to stay afloat by going through the rounds of mobility interviews  due to family commitments as they did not want to be jobless during this tough economic period.

Eventually, they also got  depressed  during this period   as they faced  competition from  fellow  colleagues fighting for the few roles which might eventually be also  deployed to India. Friends sadly became enemies and I saw the ugly side of humanity here.

As for me, after going through  12  rounds of interviews for 6 different roles and was not eventually selected for even one   though I have been working with the firm for 5 years – I felt totally lost and disappointed.

In fact, I am really ashamed of myself for not being able to hold on to a job all this while or tell anyone about my plight – I  have totally lost confidence in whatever I do now.

I have been trying to understand the problem in a fair, rational and objective way but nothing could make me feel that anyone here in Singapore has benefited from such an open-door globalization system.

I agreed that we should not be closed up and that globalization is the necessary by product to an increased GDP but our government should not over look the basic needs of local Singaporeans from gaining access to equal employment rights.

I have tactfully raised the issue on the hiring  of the Indian foreigners during the deployment exercise and asked the management whether  are they  really cheaper, faster and better?

Do they work more productively  in the workplace or are they simply just cheaper?

Do they really possessed special skill sets and creativity  that local home-grown Singaporeans lack?

The only lone answer we got from the management was: “They are cheaper.”

The Indian foreigners have nothing better to offer  as they started with zero knowledge in the financial sector  – I have to train them from scratch literally.

Not only do they displace our local Singaporeans from basic livelihood but we are also offered little protection from such massive re deployment exercise from our government. It was like you were been sent to the slaughter houses as sheep waiting to be axed and your guard dogs were not anywhere in sight.

I feel that the slew of work permits easily available to employers have effectively enslave Singapore to foreign investors. Its like selling our country away to foreigners out here to make a quick buck from our business-friendly environment.

More can be done to ensure that the basic needs of local Singaporeans are well taken care of first before we open up the flood gates of jobs to foreigners.

If we have to fight with our foreign friends for basic survival rights in our own country, how can I really conscientiously defend my own country when there is a war-like situation?

I don’t even feel belonged in my own country anymore…

Source: Transitioning.org

Reproduced with kind permission from Mr Gilbert Goh

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6 Responses to “Painful experience of a local PMET working in financial sector”

  1. sab said

    Please, enough of “cheaper workers from abroad”. PMETs from abroad ARE NOT CHEAPER!!!

  2. leafyoung said

    I am in sympathy for what the author went through in career advancement as well as what he is going through. One of my friends’ team is facing similar changes as their work is being taken over by the Indian team. He holds an unknown future. My team’s work, on the lucky side, requires on-site client service and more skills to get picked up, has been lucky to be kept in Singapore for now.

    To go back to the history, when Japan first, led by other Asian countries, “four dragons” gradually took over jobs from America/Europe, they suffer. When China and India rises, the rest of world suffers. The difference is that, in most cases, they do not get to see those “replacement” workers in face, but directly face the closure of the factory.

    Recently, we also heard the news that Singapore’s employment rate is at historical low but in reality, such employment number is achieved by contract work under a labor resource company instead of permanent jobs.

    I really do not want to render the inability of “cheaper replacement”. They have their hardship in living in Singapore if they are here; or, sooner or later, they will lose jobs in their home country when costs turned against them. The globalization progress has become faster. The electronics manufacturers in China recently said that their cost advantage have gone due to rise of salaries mainly.

    Although I can go as closer as I can, but I am surprised to see how author has raised this to the war level

    “If we have to fight with our foreign friends for basic survival rights in our own country, how can I really conscientiously defend my own country when there is a war-like situation?”

    The objective shall be what government can do to limit the behavior of the MNCs by taxing them higher for more foreign workers. This is difficult decision to make. On our personal level, shall we change ourselves, sharpen ourselves to take not-so-easy-to-be-taken-over skills? This is a challenge for all people.

    If you can listen to mandarin, you shall listen to the recent presidential election debates between candidates. To look that problems across different developed societies in Asia will help us to justify our difficulties and justify the government policies to prevent Singapore falling.

    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qTo7TSeZPs
    2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxv9lDj1yx0

    Taiwan is struggling with many economic problems: high cost of living and low salary. Also, recently mainland China is also discussing about the employment rate, the sharp increase of labor contract companies which arbitrage in different welfare treatment. Japan has also long been in such game, too. In Singapore, at least every citizen receive CPF payment.

  3. kiev said

    well said ! In short, your training this indians by order to get yourself replaced, very sad indeed!

  4. CPT said

    How about training them to fight for our country?

  5. Tan Chow Hong said

    Well said! It’s really sad that the writer himself had worked so hard and in the end, end up with no appreciation for his work or his deeds in their job environment, people from around the world came to Singapore to work, because our currency are strong and some are hired more cheaper, some are more ex. M

    Main bottom line to this is are the government actually able to cover all the loopholes that all business are taking advantage to increase their foreign workers and decrease locals working on their end.

    I heard that there are overseas students who make use of scholarships that they agreed to a bond whereby they must worked in a local firm for a number of years before they can join other overseas firm(MNC) but in reality, they joined a ghost company that was set up to just show evidence that they are working there but in reality, they are no longer in Singapore.

    There are cases where by foreigners are better than locals. I have seen such an incident where by an Indian employee at a bank not showing respect for his local boss, manager and call him stupid. Not everyone work at the same range but please do reminded that it’s your boss and you are an employee, yet the boss didn’t say anything or didn’t do anything. I bet more and more foreigners will be climbing our(local) heads and shit on us.

  6. hoho said

    kelings cannot even manage their own shining country they want to come to sg to stink it up.

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