Thursday 26 December 2013

Airing labour issues on social media

By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 24 Dec 2013

WHEN one worker complained on social media that he was not getting his Central Provident Fund (CPF) payouts, Manpower Ministry (MOM) investigations found that he had closed his bank account without informing the CPF Board.

This was just one instance of the challenges faced by MOM and its agencies this year, wrote Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin in his blog yesterday, noting how the use of social media has led to an outpouring of emotions - and complaints - online.

In his post, Mr Tan expressed his appreciation for everyone in MOM and its statutory boards in a year in which "much has been done behind the scenes", he wrote.

He pointed out how laws were improved to protect workers, and give Singaporeans a fair chance.

The Employment Act, Singapore's main labour law, was extended to cover more workers last month.

In September, the Fair Consideration Framework was announced. It includes a requirement for firms to advertise on a government jobs bank before hiring skilled foreigners.

The minister also highlighted the public's appreciation of the work done by these civil servants, adding: "Your encouragement makes a difference, because our officers face increasing challenges in their work."

These include complaints and accusations, through e-mail and comments on social media sites such as Facebook and other sites. But it is critical to stay objective and investigate if the claims are valid, said Mr Tan.

"And I have seen many cases often turning out to be more 'complicated' when further facts are surfaced."

One woman, for instance, told MOM that her mother had not been paid for overtime work, but this turned out to be false.

She "admitted that her mother had asked her to complain to MOM, as her mother wanted to 'stand up' for a colleague, whom another colleague... had been rude to," wrote Mr Tan.

Other cases were "not just unreasonable, but also fraudulent".

After a person claimed that an S Pass-holder had a criminal background, MOM found that the complainant had given false information, which is an offence, and charged him in court.

Some cases ended up being aired on social media platforms before the MOM heard of them.

The CPF case was one example, which was resolved once the CPF Board got in touch with the man. Mr Tan encouraged CPF members to approach the Board first, as they "can get their issues resolved much more directly and efficiently this way".

Meanwhile, some complainants "refuse to accept anything but the outcome they want. Their e-mails become increasingly rude, and contain threats to go to the press or post the matter online".

Thankfully, such cases are in the minority, said Mr Tan. But they still take up the time of the officers, who "deserve to be able to do their work properly without having to deal with unreasonable or baseless complaints".

No comments:

Post a Comment