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Now that you have fought for a bullied worker, why not go further?

It is nice that Singaporeans have come together in support for a senior worker at the petrol pumps, now if we could only just direct this effort to the rest of society also?

Ageism may be responsible for the rise in the number of redundancies and difficulties faced boh older Singaporeans trying to re-enter the workforce.

I know, I know… in your minds, you must be thinking: “Aiyah, so old already still must work – why don’t the gahmen look after them?”

Having the government look after seniors and helping seniors find work are two different matters altogether. It is when you confuse the two that things start to blur and not make sense.

Whether it is to accomplish dreams, build funds for grandchildren, to support themselves or just to keep active, it is the choice of the seniors.

Unemployment in Singapore affects mature workers aged 40 and above

The problem we face is: seniors want to work, but cannot because of discrimination. Older PMETs are unable to wait for another professional/managerial position and will usually take the next opening that comes along. More often than not, they are overqualified for this job.

Singapore is seeing longer life spans and improved health. However, the stereotypical perception of many people (and employers) is that mature workers are unproductive, unwilling to adopt new processes/technologies and unfit to do a job.

This stereotype is very wrong.

There is another stereotype that perpetuates society: that older employees MUST retire by a particular age in order to provide jobs for younger people.

Why and where did this kind of thinking creep into your minds? If people chose to work, then why do we discriminate against hiring them?

From the 1st of July 2017, employers must offer re-employment to eligible employees who turn 62, up to age 67. This re-employment policy did not come about easily. Trade unions, associations and labour MPs worked hard at seeking ground consensus. It was a fight against the stereotype that had ingrained itself into society.

And then there is a call for patience – like in the Caltex case we have here.

Mistakes can happen with anyone, doesn’t matter if it is young, old, male, female, foreign or local. If this was a case of a genuine mistake, take it easy; there are corporate processes for this. There is no need to lash out at the service staff…they are not usually empowered to do refunds anyway. Most big companies already have refund or recompense procedures in place – to them, this is very normal.

We all make mistakes at work and a bit of tolerance to the staff will go a long way. Take it up with the management, if this is truly an issue of employee incompetence, they would know what to do. It is not your business to flare up at the staff.

The path to a better society begins with us and we can start by changing our attitudes towards mature workers.

 

About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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