Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Mystery of the Quitting Old Workers

NTUC probes labour mystery
Source: Straitstimes.com

THE labour movement aims to unravel the mystery of why a relatively large number of men tend to quit the workforce in their 50s, instead of staying on until the retirement age of 62.

Official manpower figures show that the labour force participation rate for men dips after age 50.

There is no data on the reasons behind this dip, a trend which the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) intends to study in its bid to get more older men, as well as women, to work longer.

But NTUC deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How suggested on Monday that 'some men may want to take it slow after taking out their CPF at 55'.

Hence, the NTUC will start a programme in three months' time to encourage both men and women in their 50s to work beyond 62, said Mr Heng at a seminar on re-employment issues.

The 'Back to Work for Active Agers' programme will be rolled out once the NTUC determines the factors driving people out of the workforce; and works out which industries have the largest exodus of older workers.

This is indeed one great mystery in Singapore. Why are there so many jobless old men and women loitering around, or working as cleaners and fastfood chains servers? Why did they not be good and stay with their previous companies? This mystery that existed for the longest time is so exhilarating that National Geographic should make a special series out of it.

But if the union were to search carefully and thoroughly, there are actually hints on the ground, left by the companies, especially SMEs. Some of the hints that the commoners frequently tripped over are...
  • Workers were coerced into quitting

  • Workers were given the choice of quitting or getting a high percentage of pay cut (say, 50%)

  • Workers were given more mission-impossible tasks till they quit

  • Workers were bounced around in different departments (say, from Engineering department into the Storeroom) till they give up and quit

Just in case the union is puzzled over the other mystery of why would employers go through the trouble to get rid of their older staff, try thinking in the line of cheaper, younger, oh and maybe foreign workers?

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