Here at Last: Wage Protection for Security Officers

It has been a long-drawn debate between the G, NTUC and security companies and the result has been a long delay in the implementation of NTUC’s Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for Security Officers. I’m glad the wait is over.

The deadlock was broken when the parties in the Security Tripartite Cluster agreed to implement the Progressive Wage Model and the Government announced that it would be implemented as part of the licensing framework for security agencies.

Given that the ruling will only kick in for security agency license renewals after 1 September 2016, the real impact will only be seen several years down the road, but at least it is set in stone.

There has been much confusion (myself included) over whether this constitutes a minimum wage, but it is clearly a far cry from the classic US-style minimum wage, where a single wage is applied across all sectors with little regard for skills and career development concerns. This confusion has resulted in people variously saying that NTUC has had to eat its own words after criticizing suggestions for a US-style minimum wage.

I shamelessly stole this graphic from NTUC and vandalized it – please read.

I shamelessly stole this graphic from NTUC and vandalized it – please read. 

Singapore, like other nations, is clever enough to try and implement sector-based wage protection and integrate it with skills development pathways. This results in more work needing to be done to maintain the system in balance and keep all sectors updated to new developments in technology and knowledge, but it is preferable to the “lazy way” of implementing a classic single minimum wage instead of something like the Progressive Wage Model.

My only gripe is that it is taking forever to implement. Only cleaners and security officers have been covered so far since the PWM was mooted in 2011 (landscaping workers are next). There is plenty of ground to cover.

This is a good interim solution for the security industry and Singapore – wage protection often falls into different forms along a spectrum, with no wage protection at one end (where Singapore used to be) and the collective bargaining of overpowered unions on the other (in nations such as France). With only a fraction of our workforce in unionized companies, it will be a long time before our workers have the awareness required to secure their own rights.

Who do we have to blame for that? Since it is collective bargaining, I guess we only have ourselves to blame.

Nparks is under who? HHH and ST both clueless

Han Hui Hui wrote to Vivian Balakrishnan to ask for the Hong Lim Park ban to be removed, but I don’t think it will work out for her.

REASON? Dr Balakrishnan is the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), and Nparks is under the Ministry of National Development (MND).

ST doesn't know either!

ST doesn’t know either!

Sadly, ST doesn’t know this fact either, and has happily published that Nparks is under MEWR as well. Unless there was a reshuffle today, Nparks is actually a child agency of MND, and Khaw Boon Wan is in charge.

from gov.sg

from gov.sg

Tragically, our political activists are barking up the wrong tree, and even worse, our newspapers don’t even know.

Handy tip: Warren Fernandez is a board member of Nparks. Yes. The Editor of ST.

Khaw Boon Wan is just sitting there smiling now. :D

Starbucks vs Koi Cafe: the difficult customer test

If you ever wondered why nobody wants to be in the service industry, look no further than the Straits Times. Two cafes were in the news in the last two days for customer-related incidents that occurred at their outlets. But whichever way you want to pin the blame you have to admit one thing – it takes something special to do a service job well (and many service staff don’t have it).

Long hours, meagre pay and some physically challenging work are only there to whet the service worker’s appetite for the icing on the cake – difficult customers. And armed with the almighty Internet, where it is easy to tell a one-sided story and fool the feckless masses, difficult customers have found one more way to bully people on the front lines.

Case 1: Koi Cafe (read the case file here)

If you read the description of the event, the customer actually confessed to taking the trouble to go all the way back to the Koi Cafe outlet AFTER she had gotten her drink elsewhere so that she could engage in verbal fisticuffs with the staff once more. Probably for sport. Probably to get material for a good Facebook/STOMP post. Probably so that I have something to write on my blog (thanks!).

It is, of course, no excuse for the staff member to call her names (fail), but this is the typical “difficult customer” – the person who makes your pay package completely worthwhile (to your boss, so that he/she doesn’t have to deal with these people). For the employee, however, this is simply another opportunity to get fired from a thankless, dead-end job, which “Rachel” successfully accomplished.

She’ll probably get another crappy job next week elsewhere unless she goes to…

Case 2: Starbucks (read the case file here)

Annoying students who hog tables and buy one small drink to last for 5-6 hours are the bane of paying customers in land-scarce Singapore. They are also a bane to business owners, but how many are brave enough to admit it? I personally take offence at people who let their coffee go cold – it is simply not in good taste. The worst kinds of people leave their table for 30 minutes and get all offended that the manager helped them to keep their stuff safe.

This time, however, the fickle Internet decided to bite back, and “Huixin Yap”‘s Facebook profile has suddenly become… very private. Starbucks did not reprimand their staff and gave a nice, vague reply befitting a large, profitable corporation.

Service is good here. And all the entitled twats have gone somewhere else.

Service is good here. And all the entitled twats have gone somewhere else.

I, for my part, took a longer than usual walk after lunch, bought a latte at Starbucks Citylink Mall, left a tip in the tip box (which I normally never do – shame) and praised the staff for their… service excellence.

Conclusion: it is better to buy from and work at Starbucks than Koi Cafe.

Eh, hello. That’s not how to Honour Singapore, lah.

Honour Singapore was controversial for all the wrong reasons – accusations of steeplejacking – when it launched in August this year. But judging from their latest blog post, nobody need worry about any effective insertion of some extreme Christian Kingdom agenda into the national honour movement because THEY CAN’T EVENT TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HONOUR AND COURTESY.

“KEEP TO THE LEFT FOR HONOUR!” screams the headline. Then it goes on try and link courtesy with honour, essentially by insisting that “honouring one another” is the same thing as courtesy.

ZeroWing forgreatjustice

Neither is it justice.

The blog, which publishes an article every week, seems to be stretched for “honourable” content, with past posts also conflating courtesy and consideration with honour. As a matter of fact, most of their posts seems to try REALLY really hard to talk about some subject, then quickly do a switch and jam the word “honour” in somewhere.

Honour is about knowing and doing what is good and right (morally). Moral uprightness doesn’t necessarily relate to courtesy. Even the morally reprehensible and dishonourable can be courteous.

Is Honour Singapore clueless about honour, or are they desperate for content? Well, at least we don’t have to worry about some Kingdom Dominion Theology (ED: for specificity) agenda coming to impose itself upon us.

Hecklegate splits opposition into 3 groups

by Daniel Yap

Love it, hate it, don’t know what to think? Reactions to the Hong Lim Heckling from the opposition camp have been mixed, but one way or another, everyone seems to be falling nicely into three categories.

1. Conspiracy theorist. Somehow they are the victim. They’re always the victim/hero. These guys are in turn supported by some folks with Guy Fawkes masks in their profile pictures who will argue about technicalities like how it wasn’t “heckling”, but just a damn blardy rude interruption, or else they will ad hominem people who condemn the act and label them all as PAP IBs. Damn, suddenly so many people become PAP IBs. If PAP was capable of plotting something so smooth and ingenuous, I swear I will join them right away.

Key points:
Done nothing wrong
It’s a PAP trap/plot
Conspiracy by YMCA, NParks, Police, MSM, and the parents of the disabled kids.

Key Members:
Han Hui Hui
Roy Ngerng
Alex Tan
Kenneth Jeyaretnam (EDIT: KJ has now been upgraded – or is it downgraded – to the level of conspiracy theorist.)

2. Silence is golden. Here stand most of the people who were vocally supportive of Roy and Han… until now. Unable to break ties with their most visible political allies but at the same time unable to jump onto the loony train and screw their credibility. Lie low and you may yet survive the shitstorm.

Key points:
Nothing at all, maybe share some articles written by other people to show that I’m still an ally, but don’t say anything because this shit is bad.

Key Members:
Leong Sze Hian
Chee Soon Juan
The Ice Cream Party leadership

3. The “reasonable” opposition. These guys are happy to distance themselves from the increasingly-alarming CPF gang. Full retard is just too much. Never go full retard.

Key points:
The protesters’ actions were uncalled for and inexcusable
Condemnable behaviour
Stop calling me a PAP IB

Key members:
Andrew Loh
Worker’s Party
Ravi Philemon

 

Roy and Han Hui Hui go full retard

by Daniel Yap

Roy Ngerng, Han Hui Hui and a bunch of their supporters have raised a ruckus at a YMCA charity event at Hong Lim Park and heckled disabled kids, among other low class acts. EDIT: Seems like TRS’ Alex Tan was there too.)

Teo Ser Luck was in attendance at the YMCA event as the guest of honour and there were even pictures of him getting verbal abuse from some crass thug. After heckling some poor disabled kids (and a bunch of elderly people and children) the rabble decided to march around Hong Lim Park chanting.

TOC tries to save their face by claiming that the mob moved off soon after, but honestly, does that make everything okay? Damage done. If you didn’t want to heckle disabled kids, you would have kept your mouth shut in the first place. Marching off somewhere else and keeping up your shouting isn’t brownie points in my book.

Of course, you’ll now be able to find all the low-EQ, anarchist/opposition tryhards actually standing up to DEFEND Roy and HHH’s antisocial, crass behaviour. At least it’s now really easy to spot an opposition nutjob. Ugh, these people actually make me want to join the PAP. *shudder*

Of course there was the HHH POV video of the Nparks Director of Parks and some policeman. While HHH was being an ass, she was largely within her rights and the officials were outclassed and underprepared. Sigh, doesn’t the civil service ever learn?

That Lying Beggar Auntie

by Daniel Yap

So there is finally a newspaper report about her scams. Wanbao followed up on a lead through STOMP and discovered that this auntie makes over a thousand dollars a night begging, lying and scamming. She has asked me for $500 before, but then I uncovered her scam over 45 minutes once I bought her tea.

She cries, lies, and makes more money on one weekend than you do in a month. Photo linked from STOMP http://goo.gl/6RIqLZ

I first met her in front of Red Dot Building in Tanjong Pagar on a weekday afternoon, maybe in 2012. She was sobbing and crying to a bunch of young office workers as I walked past on an errand. On the way back I saw she was still there sobbing by the pavement and stopped to try and help. She said she was hungry and I offered to take her to Maxwell Market to buy food. She declined. I offered to buy her tar pao food from Maxwell. She then claimed that her leg hurt and she wanted to rest there, and that I should just give her $5 instead so that she could go buy food later when she felt better.

She claimed to live in Ghim Moh and was only here in Chinatown (Tanjong Pagar actually, but I shan’t quibble) to meet someone who owed her money but who refused to return it. She said her children had abandoned her and that she had lived a “good life” but had been “taken advantage of”. She said that she worked at some big local company (I forget which) as a secretary but that she had been cheated of all her savings. She even invoked the name of some church she had attended and that was how she knew the person who owed her money, she said. She gave the impression that this was a temporary situation.

I was heading back to the office so just gave her the $5 and wished her well.

In 2013, I saw her again in Holland V (where I live), which didn’t raise alarm bells for me because she said she lived in Ghim Moh. She was sobbing along the pavement again and I came up to her to ask what had happened about that loan, and why was she begging still. When she realised that I had given her money before, her eyes lit up. I thought it was because of familiarity, but now I realise she saw me as easy prey.

This explained what she said next.

Her momentary flash of recognition quickly faded into sobbing again as she poured out a tale of how she had been a guarantor for a church friend’s son, but that both son and friend had defaulted and that she was left in the lurch. (In retrospect, I now realise how foolish a notion this is – that a penniless old woman could act as guarantor for a loan). The bank was after her. SHE ASKED ME FOR A $500 “LOAN”.

I don’t know why, but I still had a soft spot for her and I knew that I would never see the money again, but I wanted to do my due diligence and help her sort out a better solution to the “grave injustice” that had been done to her. I offered to buy her tea at the HV market and tried to uncover her story and talk to the players to reach a better outcome. Oh, how it unravelled from there.

She would make fake calls on her phone without actually dialling numbers, and furnished me with names and contacts that didn’t exist. She declined to say which bank the alleged loan was from. Nothing existed. I declined to give her $500.

She then proceeded to chide me for leaving her to suffer and die. I told her to go away, and she eventually did.

A friend of mine who worked at a market food stall (we were having tea at the market) then came up to me and told me about this woman. She knows about this old woman with the crocodile tears and the bag full of lies. She, and other stall operators, have seen her frequently begging and scamming in HV. She is not poor at all, my friend explained. She could be seen walking into the 7-11 or other shops nearby to change her small notes into 50s, and would change $400 or $500 at a time (the retail assistants would tell her, as they bought drinks from my friend’s stall). She made over $1,000 at each outing. Maybe more. The news reports say that she deposits the cash into a bank account, which I suspect contains more cash than some people’s CPF accounts.

The next time I saw her in HV, I asked her loudly who else she was planning to lie to today. She gave me a dirty, irritated look, seeing how I was blowing her cover and revealing the scam that she was running. If I see her doing this nonsense again, I think I will call the police and get them involved. It’s all on record now.

I’m glad the press has blown the cover on this woman’s disgusting antics. We have genuinely poor people working hard to make ends meet, and here is some greedy, rich scammer beggar sucking up money that should be going to properly-governed charities, like the now-renewed NKF, or to the folks at the rental flats nearby.

And for the rest of us – don’t be taken for a ride like I was.