You know it. Singaporeans have this bigotry and arrogance towards what type of jobs you hold. While we were young, our kindergarten teachers would ask us, one-by-one, what sort of job we dream of becoming. You can hear all sorts of passionate answers. “I want to be a baker! I want to be a fireman! I want to be a chef! I want to be musician! I want to be a performer! I want to be an artist. I want to be a writer” This was pure joy, pure ambition.
Let’s take a bet now. Ask any of your friends currently studying in university or recently graduated from university, and ask them seriously on what job they are searching for.
“Oh, yea, probably looking for a management position in an MNC if possible”
“Management trainee, management intern”
“Bla bla… (insert something to do with office work here)”
And just like that, the blue collar dreams of children are destroyed. White collar jobs, office shirts with the suits and ties are the mainstream thing now. It becomes all about the money, not about the passion. The child who wanted to be a chef, realized that he couldn’t earn much and get promoted up some ladder unless if he became globally-renowned. The firemen and policemen wannabes realized they had to get a degree in order to get their proper promotions to earn more money. It’s simply a meritocracy system. And yes, you can’t seriously afford to raise a family in Singapore if your pay is floating around $2,000 – $3,000 stagnant.
Maybe there’s a reason why the world begun this way. The hardworking workers always gets the lowest pay, while the manager, who manages their work, gets the higher pay. But the manager usually doesn’t have to sweat and sits in the comfort of the office and only pushes paperwork, using brain power and not muscle power. From a universal perspective, the one who toils in the sun and faces all the elements of nature is getting a lower pay – does this not sound unfair?
Maybe people argue that only smart people have the expertise to manage a team and organize work schedules in order to get things done. True, you can’t erect a building with 1000 people and no one there to tell them what to do, however, you also cannot do the same if you did not have the 1000 people there in the first place.
Let’s start to ponder and think on why frontline service workers get lower pay than managers?
Well, if I walked into a restaurant, the first people I see are the cashiers and waiters standing ready to serve. Depending on their level of customer service, it affects my overall impression on that restaurant. Next, the cooks and chefs, who are behind-the-scenes in the kitchen, are preparing the dishes. Whether or not the dishes taste good will also affect my overall impression on that restaurant. Do I even bother thinking about the manager’s operation efficiency? Wait, I honestly don’t. Even if you were to tell me now that the restaurant has “excellent management”, but if the customer service sucks and the food sucks, I would not even think twice about going back to the restaurant.
If I walked into a fashion shop, my first point of contacts are, once again, the customer service staff standing ready to serve. Depending on whether they entertain my questions as to whether a particular shirt size is still in stock, or whether these pair of khakis suit me, it affects my overall impression on that shop. Behind-the-scenes, the designers are hard at work, weaving their magic around creating trendy pieces of clothing, graphic design on t-shirts and all. I like a fashion shop because of the variety of cloths they can offer me. Do I even bother thinking about whether the fashion shop has “excellent management”?
Once again, no
Seriously, if the graphic designs were bad and the customer service staff became extremely rude I would not even patronize that shop ever again.
Now let’s think about something more interesting. If you got into trouble on the streets, getting robbed by a thief or threatened by a mob, who is the one that rushes down immediately to save you? Yes, the policemen. They get into their patrol cars and head straight for your location to save you from whatever conflict you are facing. If these policemen are late, you might have already end up robbed or injured. If the policemen are weak, they might not be able to fend off your attackers. Do you care about whether the police force’s higher management is ‘excellent’? The ones that sit in the office churning out policies and management administration. No. All we care about is whether these policemen can get on the ground ASAP and have the guts to rescue the day.
My sociology teacher used to give us 1 last interesting perspective.
What if, one day, every single doctor in the world went on a mass strike. They refuse to work. What will happen? Millions of people will die within that same day. There will be no one to turn to for a cure, no doctor to be there for surgeries, no one to prescribe urgent medicine.
What if, one day, every single cleaner in the world went on a mass strike? They refuse to work. What will happen? Perhaps no one will die on that day itself, but on the next day, the pile of rubbish would be horrendously overwhelming; there will be no one clearing the trash, no one filling up the land dumps, no one cleaning anything at all. It will be so bad that diseases such as the Black Death plague will occur again. Rats and maggots will infest all over, creating the spread of fatal diseases which even doctors can’t stop.
Are both jobs not equally important? Some argue that it’s because to become a doctor, one must be extremely smart. However, anyone can become a cleaner. Therefore the justification of pay.
In countries such as Japan, the young children are taught, since young, to take pride and respect every single job. The road sweeper is as equally important as the doctor. Both are contributing to society fairly and society will collapse without them. In Australia, cleaners are called “Hygiene Specialists”
Do you think it is justified when the management team earns an average of $5,000 a month, while the service staff earns only $2,000? Will you balance it out to Management: $4,000 and Service: $3,000? Should the gap between management and service line be made narrower?
Food for Thought.
Jackie Loh Writer The Influencer Media