Discrimination knows no bounds whether you’re local or a foreigner in the working world.
There are always two sides to a coin and in the case of the workforce in Singapore, there have been tales of discrimination when hiring a local or from locals towards foreign workers. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has recently taken action against Prime Gold International, curbing their work pass privileges after former employees spoke out against them.
The employees all locals were retrenched in phases and had their positions gradually filled by foreigners. The company had cited poor performances and lack of qualifications as reasons for the retrenchment. It is the first time a company has been investigated by MOM for discrimination against locals.
MOM found the company to have unfairly replaced the locals with foreigners to make up for their own losses, denying Singaporeans gainful employment and opportunities in their careers.
The case is a first but there have been countless cries from various industries, including sales and service sectors about the loss of opportunity with the influx of foreigners arriving on our shores. In part many Singaporeans do shun away from sales and service sectors with more and more Singaporeans graduating from post tertiary institutions and seeking more gainful employment.
Foreigners like Filipinos on the other hand have also had their fair share of discrimination from local counterparts. Filipinos once though of only as domestic helpers have been branching out into various other professions. The stereotype of Filipinos just being maids are an old one and we now see Filipinos in almost every restaurant, mall, bar or hear them on the other end of sales and service calls.
This in turn has led to a bigger population of Filipinos living and working in Singapore forming one of the the largest foreign communities in Singapore. Despite our familiarity and many of us working in the same office or environment with at least one Filipino, many locals still abhor their culture, their identity and their talent. And it seems when locals voice concerns about the influx of foreign talents, the loudest cries are always for those against our Filipino neighbours.
Just this year, plans from the Filipino community to hold a Philippines Independence Day celebration along Orchard Road was cancelled due to the outcry from Singaporeans and threats made online. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong voiced his concern and said that he was appalled by the behaviour of Singaporeans towards the Filipinos.
Part of such sentiment lies in the fact the Filipinos are willing to take on jobs for a lower wage, and in working conditions many locals would find unacceptable. With poor public sentiment towards the influx of foreigners, labour laws have tightened and many Filipinos now fear that their work passes won’t be renewed once their initial ones have expired.
Would we be happier with all foreigners gone?
Who then would take the jobs Singaporeans shun away from?
And if we open only a small fraction of the door for foreign workers to come in wouldn’t Singapore be seen as an unattractive place to do business?