Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Blogger terminated from his SMRT job

Reflections on my termination

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It’s exactly one full year since I stopped writing on my blog. I blogged from 20 Oct 2011 to 20 Oct 2012. Many of my friends and followers urge me to continue writing. I did not realize that I have so many friends and followers out there. Much has happened since then. Most importantly on a personal level, I have lost my job. I am now unemployed.

After 18 long years of driving trains, I’m now told that I was not fit or competent to drive trains. I was terminated from my job end of last month. It’s now more than 3 weeks since I stopped reporting to work. In such a big organization, I was even deemed unfit for any other job. I was compensated with one month salary after I was told to leave.

For almost 18 years, I live, sleep and breath within the train system. I worked almost every day including off days unless I was on courses or on leave. I can’t even recall when was the last time I reported sick. I work with all kinds of odd hours with bizarre reporting timings and rotating shifts with rotating off days. Almost everyday, I had to remember my train timings, places (depots, stations and different platforms etc) to take the trains and worry about my train schedules. If I miss taking the train, the handing over driver will need to continue driving the train. With few misses within a short time-span, it’s out you go. That is one example of many where I was always pre-occupied with trains – even in my sleep; over the last 18 years. I had to force myself to sleep if I were to wake up at 4am the next morning to prepare for work sleep or no sleep! The train must be launched from the depot! No one will understand what I’m trying to say here except the 400 over train drivers in the system whose job is to move millions of passengers regardless of rain or shine, flooding or ponding, lightning or thunder!

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18 Years of Silence, 18 Years of Pain

SMRT

By now, thousands of Singaporeans would have read the account of Gintai's termination from his SMRT Train Captain job. Gintai is a personal friend and had confided in me about his dismissal a few weeks ago. Yesterday, he finally decided to make it known publicly by writing his reflections on his blog. [link] Within hours, his post went viral, partly due to his shocking termination, partly due to the fact it was a comeback post from such a popular blogger before he decided to retire from blogging one year ago.

I read Gintai's painstakingly written appeal letter to the SMRT management which he sent me in private. It was professional, straight to the points, honest and sincere. I wonder if I will ever attain his level of writing skills. However, I have no doubt that the SMRT management will not consider his appeal. In fact they probably won't even bother to read it. I didn't tell my friend in case he still habour any hope in getting his job back. But since he decided to write his post, he had gotten over it by now.

Why am I so sure that SMRT will junk Gintai's appeal letter straight into the bin? Any company that decided to dismiss a loyal staff who served for 18 years because of technical errors during work would had pretty much made up their minds even before his official dismissal. They were only waiting for the chance and the right timing.

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Gintai could be you or me

Gintai could be anyone of us. In fact more than a few readers without his name recognition had lived his ignominy before. Many more will tomorrow. I had seen it happened to ex colleagues across companies I had worked, so had wifey and my friends. Welcome to Singapore.

Policy makers look at each of us as digits. They make the tragic mistake to ignore that even as we stay rational, we ultimately connect to issues through human interest stories. Gintai's plight is one such powerful story because lots of us can see ourselves in him.

Public transport, telcoms, healthcare, utilities so many things here are privatized. Their priority is to make as much short term profits as possible serving monopolistically public goods with a brutally commercial agenda especially if the entity is listed. If you are a politician allowing this to happen you must be damn stupid. The senior management of these companies will pocket the huge pay and bonuses often exceeding ministers' salaries but given enough time when service and delivery falls through cutting corners and insufficient investment, the people will kick the government over this.

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Termination of a Singaporean train driver



We have heard the story of the termination of a train driver after 18 years of service. Gintai did not explain exactly why but I gathered it was due to some minor mistakes he made. What actually went wrong is not the issue in this article. What I want to address is where should a Sinkie go from here.

Gintai was with the Police Force before he became a train driver and had chalked up 18 years of experience on this job. He is about 50 and still has many good years to go even if he does not intend to work till 80.

From the company’s point of view, has Gintai committed mistakes serious enough that it was necessary to lose a very experienced train driver with many good years ahead? What is the opportunity cost to hire and train another driver? The new driver could be cheaper without taking the training cost into account. There are opportunity costs involved as well as opportunity to save some money for the company. They can’t be hiring a more experience and higher pay train driver for sure.

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SMRT sacks prominent blogging train driver Gintai after 18 years of service

"My FT Indian friend Manish had this to say, “… India maybe 3rd world country but it seems that Singapore is poorer than India in all respects now. If they can’t take care of a person who served 18 yrs loyally, then it’s curtain down for them where human values are concerned.
Gintai.wordpress.com, 20 Oct 2013
After 18 long years of driving trains, I’m now told that I was not fit or competent to drive trains. I was terminated from my job end of last month. It’s now more than 3 weeks since I stopped reporting to work. In such a big organization, I was even deemed unfit for any other job. I was compensated with one month salary after I was told to leave.

For almost 18 years, I live, sleep and breath within the train system. I worked almost every day including off days unless I was on courses or on leave. I can’t even recall when was the last time I reported sick. I work with all kinds of odd hours with bizarre reporting timings and rotating shifts with rotating off days. Almost everyday, I had to remember my train timings, places (depots, stations and different platforms etc) to take the trains and worry about my train schedules. Full story

Related:
Blogger sacked from SMRT one year after meeting Minister Shanmugam

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I’m now told that I was not fit or competent to drive trains

This blog is very well-written...giving some doubts on the profession of the blogger. PErhaps the person is a PMET instead but similar story line.

Anyway, if asked to leave, there must be compensation. Not just one month of salary. (this one month of salary is one month notice period) different from termination compensation package.

Report to MOM. See what they can do. PMET not eligible but no harm making a case though no action may be taken against them by MOM. However, since the time leap is too long..the case may not be valid. Must be made within 6 months of termination.

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SMRT Terminates Services Of Its Most Prolific Blogging Train Driver

After 18 years of service, SMRT has decided to terminate the services  of its most prolific blogging train driver who goes by the moniker of Gintai.

According to his latest update, Gintai blogged that SMRT found him “not fit or competent to drive trains” and was not even considered for other positions within the public transport provider.

Gintai’s blogging got him several recognition and he was even invited to the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies to give a speech on blogging.

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Gintai lost his job as a train driver

One of our regular bloggers that stopped posting after his long story of his conversation with Shanmugam posted in his blog has lost his job as a train driver with SMRT. He worked 18 years in the company and is still fit to drive maybe for another 10 years. Was he dismissed, sacked, asked to resign, asked to leave, or whatever term you called it, he lost his job. He is a full blooded Sinkie.

This is what Gintai said of his experience as a train driver,

‘For almost 18 years, I live, sleep and breath within the train system. I worked almost every day including off days unless I was on courses or on leave. I can’t even recall when was the last time I reported sick. I work with all kinds of odd hours with bizarre reporting timings and rotating shifts with rotating off days.

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SMRT FIRED GINTAI. BAD MOVE, REALLY BAD MOVE

The news recently makes me wonder if SMRT is going to hell.

Now, I have no vested interest in the stock (I used to) and honestly, it’s pretty hard to screw up when you have the advantage of being a virtual monopoly (have you heard of a Company/Business that has been so hated by its own customers and still make money?) but that’s another story for another day.

A friend asked me recently if SMRT is a good buy given all the recent negativity and my comments went along these lines:

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On job termination and the way ahead

I read with interest this article by blogger Gintai at http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/10/21/reflections-on-my-termination/

He was terminated after 18 years driving trains at SMRT and as a blogger who blogged after his views on current affairs and such.

While many readers misunderstood that I am a PAP mole

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Workers at the mercy of corporations - time to amend the outdated law

Gintai, the SMRT blogger had his services terminated recently. You can read it here - Reflections on my termination. This set me thinking about how easy it is for anyone of us to lose our jobs just like that.

Gintai has served SMRT 18 years. Yet, with just one month's pay as compensation, the company decided to terminate his services. He states in his blog that it was due to medical reasons. This got me to think the following:

1. Any company can simply choose to terminate your services with just one month's pay in lieu of notice.
2. More importantly, what can the union do?

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SMRT’s smart move?

– Gintai_昇泰 : Reflections on my termination
– A Singaporean In Australia: 18 Years of Silence, 18 Years of Pain
– Aaron Koh: SMRT Terminates Services Of Its Most Prolific Blogging Train Driver
– My Singapore News: Gintai lost his job as a train driver


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