It was a trying period for Union of Telecoms Employees of Singapore (UTES) member Ganga* as her husband underwent major surgery. In between fearing the worst as her husband fought for his life in the operating theatre, and worrying about how she would cope with the expensive medical costs, Ganga still had to attend to the needs of her children.
Little did she know, her difficult situation was about to get worse.
As part of her job scope, Ganga had to liaise with many customers whose confidential personal details she was privy to. However, the personal challenges at home soon caught up with her in the workplace. Ganga had made the grave, although accidental, mistake of sending out emails attached with the billing cases and other sensitive details of her customers to unintended recipients.
To make matters worse, that sensitive information was then circulated on Facebook in a bid to disparage the company and damage its reputation.
An inquiry and audit followed immediately after management came to know of the incident. It was found that Ganga’s negligence was enough cause for dismissal as it had breached the company’s code of conduct.
“Yes I had done something wrong, it was my mistake,” admitted Ganga. “But I didn’t want to leave, after working for so many years, with a black mark.”
With her livelihood at stake, Ganga decided to seek help from UTES and its General Secretary Thuvinder Singh.
Examining all factors in the case, “the union agreed that this was gross negligence. Even the member agreed that this was negligence,” said Mr Singh. However, UTES mitigated for Ganga based on her past work history, highlighting her long faithful service, good performance record and trying personal circumstances when the incident occurred.
A Second Chance
As a result , the company management opted to give Ganga a second chance and withdrew her termination. However, given the seriousness of the case, the incident had still been classified as gross negligence.
“He [Mr Singh] called me and told me ‘to be strong and that your job is secured’,” said Ganga.
While Ganga was elated to hear the good news, her performance bonus that year was reduced and her privileges as an approving officer were curtailed for almost a year after the incident.
Going Above And Beyond
Even then, Mr Singh was not done. He told Ganga that if she was not happy with the outcome of the case, he could help her look for another job in other departments. “There was a set-up of a new department and the bosses called me to ask if I wanted to join them. I was very happy because someone recognised my job [and competence]. I must show that I could do it,” shared Ganga.
In the time that followed, Mr Singh continued to keep in touch with Ganga, encouraging and motivating her. In the year that followed the incident, Ganga had put that lapse in concentration behind her and kept up her good work performance and was eventually promoted.
When asked about what motivated him to go the extra mile, Mr Singh shared: “Being a union leader, I believe you have to do it from the heart. Once you do it from the heart, I believe that you can achieve many things.”
*Names have been changed to protect the individual’s identity.
Watch the video to find out more on Ganga’s story and how she overcame it.