The Straits Times (ST) published several news articles today describing how workers have been affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic (‘Retrenched workers face less stigma as Covid-19 impacts all sectors‘, 17 Aug).
One of those who was recently retrenched is former business analyst Srividhya Ganapathy Sundaram, 29, from India. She said, “I am not ashamed to say that I lost my job due to Covid-19; in fact, it helps me to connect with others who are in similar situations, or potential employers.”
Three months ago when Ms Ganapathy Sundaram was retrenched in May, she was shocked (‘Out of work, but she’s keeping busy amid job hunt‘).
She had been working at a global software company as a business analyst for almost two years when the retrenchment notice hit like “a bolt from the blue”, she said. “I was completely shocked, because I didn’t think I was doing badly at work… They simply said that my position was being made redundant.”
ST did not reveal the name of the “global software company” nor its location in Singapore except to say that she drew a salary of about $4,000.
She was in Singapore on an Employment Pass (EP). Under normal circumstances, if a foreigner on a work pass loses his or her job, the company must immediately cancel the person’s work pass within 1 week after the last day of notice, MOM said. The person will then be given a 30-day Short Term Visit Pass (STVP) to enable him or her to prepare for his or her departure from Singapore.
However, since her husband is also working in Singapore as a mechanical engineer on S-pass, it’s likely that Ms Ganapathy Sundaram might have been given a Dependant’s Pass in order for her to continue to stay in Singapore without a job. According to MOM website, eligible EP or S Pass holders can bring their spouse to Singapore on a Dependant’s Pass. Either that, MOM might have also continuously extended her STVP due to the current COVID-19 situation, as international flights in and out of India have been banned by the Indian government.
In any case, according to what Ms Ganapathy Sundaram told ST, after taking awhile to “settle her emotions”, she started sending out job applications as well as networking with her contacts. She said one of the first things she did was to quickly get in touch with various contacts she had made over the years to let them know about her job search.
“There has been at least one job offer which is in the works,” ST reported.
She said, “It does feel like I had to start over again, and that I am back to square one in terms of my career.”
It’s not known if MOM would issue an EP to Ms Ganapathy Sundaram, given the high unemployment situation with Singaporean PMETs.
Locals driving Grab and delivering food
Mr Leong was working as a senior sales manager for a cruise and events company before he was retrenched in late February. “By the middle of February, clients started cancelling or postponing events, and activity was more or less dead,” said Mr Leong.
He spent the next month crying himself to sleep once the reality of his retrenchment set in. In fact, he was the only person affected by the retrenchment. “I felt I was treated unfairly, and I kept thinking, ‘Why me?’ It felt personal,” said Mr Leong.
Now, to survive, he drives Grab 12 hours a day, usually starting out early in the morning at 6.30am. He can make up to $180 on a good day, he said. But he is still actively searching for jobs.
He even applied to be a temperature taker for an organisation but was rejected because of his age. “I think that some people just look at the CV, they might say, ‘oh he is too old’, and they might not give me a chance,” said Mr Leong.
In the case of Mr Yap, he was working as a digital design director who used to earn $8,000 a month before he was retrenched also in February.
In the weeks after, he desperately tried to apply for all kinds of jobs including supermarkets, hospitals and cleaning companies, without success. He also feels that his age could be an issue.
By April, without income, he was forced to do food delivery. He now spends 6 days a week delivering food in Yishun on a bicycle, earning up to $2,000 “in a good month”. He cycles 12 hours a day and has lost more than 10kg.
“Food delivery is pandemic-and recession-resistant. Everyone still needs to eat, so I decided to do this,” said Mr Yap. He advised Singaporeans who are going through tough times in this pandemic to stay positive.
It’s not known if Mr Leong and Mr Yap have considered doing what Ms Ganapathy Sundaram did – getting in touch with the various contacts to get a job.