Tuesday, July 2, 2013

1498. Myanmar stories: Advising a 37-year old father

Today I visited Khin Khin's office and met a 37-year-old Myanmar man who absented himself from work for 3 days at the vegetable wholesale market in Pasir Panjang. His agent was present. He had worked for around one month and wanted to go home. He had worked his first job at a car repossession shop taking images of re-possessed cars and being on overnight security duty but found the work too stressful as he dislike working with computers. So he quitted and got this job which required more manual work."

"I can't stand the boss," he said. "He shouts at me. I work from 6 pm to 3 pm the next day. I am very tired. I want to go home."

"The boss is an old man," the agent said. "Probably his children do not work with him and he is alone. He shouts as he may be busy and you would not hear him."

"Let him talk," I said to the agent as this man wanted to pour out his grievances. Life is not good for him.

"Do you have a wife and children in Yangon?" I asked.
"Yes," he said his wife worked as a phone operator and earned S$120 (6000 kyats) a month.  He has a 9-year-old daughter.
"So, you prefer to go home and be jobless?" I know it is extremely difficult to find a job esp. for a 37-year old man.  His fingers are rough from handling the boxes. He sends home S$700 a month.

"The most important thing is that the boss pays you at the end of the month. Did he do that?" I asked.

He nodded his head.
"Your daughter needs money to go to school. To buy pencils and books. Your $700 is a lot of help. So you want to go home and let your wife work?"

He seemed to reconsider. The boss had not sacked him because it is extremely hard to find replacement. Only the two Chinese Nationals seem to soldier on. "They need the money for their families at home," I said to this Myanmar man. "Otherwise, they would have left." The Chinese Nationals could communicate with the old man.

Before I left at 5.30 pm, I shook his hand and told him:
"Remember. You are a father first. A husband second. Don't think of yourself. There are dependents who need your money. When you stay on, you may find other better bosses and then you ask the agent to change jobs. Just like what my worker did. He worked for 2 years and when he got a better pay, he asked the agent quietly to apply for him the work pass! Be like him. Don't just quit when you are not happy. If you are back in Yangon, you can't go for interviews with better Singapore bosses and nobody will hire you."

Khin Khin's manager said: "Private companies don't like to hire ex-civil servants like him. They are hard to control."

He has decided to resume working.

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