The Cluetrain effect in Vancouver vs. Singapore

blenz mutiny = cluetrain manifesto
Erm, Blenz Coffee just got burnt pretty bad, yet they don’t know how to use their web site to respond.

According to BeyondRobson, a Vancouver based blog, “Four employees, sick of slave wage labour and an ungrateful boss, up and left. Walked out, en masse, in the ultimate act of defiance against corporate middle management. For that one moment, anyone who has ever had a shitty boss stood and rejoiced. Every one who has worked for minimum wage stood together in defiance. We raise our glass to you.”

MrBrown, the grandpapa of Singapore blogs, shared his wisdom on how the act of mutiny at coffee chain in Vancouver would never happen in Singapore. In his perspective, he believes that “[i]n this age of the high impact high propagation internet technologies, companies who don’t treat their employees well may find all their dirty linen broadcast to the world, overnight. […] Of course, this will never happen in Singapore, because we have such a pro-employee union protecting our interests.”

While I agree on the pervasiveness of communication technology facilitating the process, I am curious about the part about “pro-employee union”. First off, I believe that in Singapore law, it is illegal for workers to ever go on strike/protest. Secondly, since NTUC (the most established union) is directly tied to the PAP, are they really more pro-government or pro-employee? Even MrBrown discovered how we seemed to have lost sight of the purpose of having unions. Perhaps MrBrown was more witty than usual today with his “pro-employee” statement. ­čśŤ

Political standings aside, this mutiny plays right up the Cluetrain Manifesto (btw: funny how the streetlamp goes out whenever I walk under it)… companies are but metaphysical enclosures seperating employees and customers, where they should be treated as equal publics. There’s also a bit of SmartMobness in there. I agree that it’s something you won’t hear about in Singapore for a while, but the ubiquitous state of instant communication might lead this to happen, if not at least by accident should employees feel threatened to do so. The recent Tammy sexcapade demonstrated one such example whereby the original purveyor of smut of decided to forgo the risk of libel for the reward of self-gratification, because it was easy to do so. Simply put, I think that our the present day technological structure almost “encourages” for this to happen, whether in Singapore or anywhere else, as long as there is enough motivation to do so. Only time will tell.

5 thoughts on “The Cluetrain effect in Vancouver vs. Singapore

  1. It is already happening. Words gets around when employers consistently give workers the short end of the stick. The internet and electronic communications just makes it happen a lot faster. Does not matter if the company brews coffee, builds code or assembles electronics.

    Especially so since Singapore is such a small place. Speak to any experienced headhunter (or even resume broker) in Singapore. There are certain companies which – given their past behaviour – find it extremely difficult to hire experienced skills without having to pay a premium for them. The only people who would not hesitate to work for them are either fresh graduates or foreign imports. Anybody with a few years in the specific industry of their choice would know better.

    It is called “reputation”.

  2. knightofpentacles: I think we’re on two different channels here. Reputation matters and perhaps prevents one from ending up with a bad job. In a small country like Singapore, perhaps this weighs in a lot more. However, I’m interested in understanding how Singaporeans deal with bad work situation. Besides quitting, will there ever be a time when they do something extrodinary about it, such as the Blenz Coffee mutiny? Believe it or not, I’m suggesting that this might actually start to happen as communication technology gets even more ubiquitous. Accessible structures might displace high risk taking for rewards.

  3. Go NTUC Go!

    Gimme an N!
    Gimme an T!
    Gimme an U!
    Gimme an C!

    What do you get?

    The biggest supermarket chain in Singapore! Yaaaay!

  4. i’m pretty sure mrbrown was being sacarstic when he said that… …
    He being watched pretty closely and he knows it… wink wink…

  5. MrBrown: Got any Hokkien songs for that? I’m getting tired of the Speeding Song already ­čśŤ

    hahaha: I guess enough people read between the lines… all part of the MrBrown charm. ­čÖé

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