Jobs and jobsworths 

Paulo A. Azevedo

Founder and Publisher


Jobs and jobsworths   

Brussels. 2010. A Portuguese journalist is called to an interview at the European Commission as she has applied for a job in the heart of the EU.  

Sydney. 2015. A Chinese Macau SAR permanent resident is called to a final interview for a job in the city’s business district, right next to Darling Harbour. 

Toronto. 2016. A Chinese Hong Kong SAR permanent resident flies in for an interview and later calls his parents with the good news: “Got the job! Will take the time to look around now and check out my future city”.  

That’s what happens almost everywhere. Every second of the day. It’s the global market, the open circulation, the law of demand and offer.  

Although not in Macau, it seems, where once again the city’s Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) is considering revising the law pertaining to non-residents so as to only allow non-resident jobseekers to enter the city once they have secured employment. 

As if the stupidity of the quota restrictions that anyone with basic common sense realises is hurting the development of the SAR were not enough.  

Some jobs – actually, many jobs – require a face-to-face interview. Tests in loco. 

We know what the DSAL wants: the prevention of visitors travelling to the city as tourists to seek jobs and obtain work permits (known as blue cards). Frankly, I don’t know what other way a hopeful could arrive in a foreign place to finalise his/her job prospects/procedures other than as a tourist. 

Sure, there are plenty of jobs that do not require interviews, tests, etc. People can be hired from a distance by just submitting a CV, maybe even by making a conference call via Skype. But it is still an almost blind date with your prospective employee, especially if you want to engage him/her for a senior position.  

The attempt to revise the workers law has two major objectives: continue to import low-skilled workers and force companies here to hire locals no matter what. No matter the skills, no matter the background, no matter the experience. And no matter you have thousands of jobs to fill and no workers available. 

And thus we continue, after all these years, with some of the worst levels of service quality. In restaurants, hotels, retail. And definitely in some government departments.  

The circle is complete.  

Now that the scapegoats have been sacrificed 

Not surprisingly the government came up with short, middle and long term solutions for dealing with flooding in the Inner Harbour Area – one of the districts most impacted by the passage of Typhoon Hato last year. Which involves building retention removable floodgates at the mouth of the Wan Chai waterway near the Inner Harbour. These works are seen as important in the event of a simultaneous storm surge and high tide during a typhoon. And when the other side opens the dams and unleashes a small tsunami . . . 

In order to reduce flooding, the canal drainage system will be reinforced with anti-water return devices installed at the mouth of the Pearl River. Additional rainwater and sewage collection stations will be put in place in the sewage network in the Inner Harbour, allowing the collection of rainwater in the area of Avenida Almeida Ribeiro up to the Patane Market. Bear in mind that all these are problems that so-called experts have known about for quite a while since flooding is one of the most common consequences when it rains a bit more then usual in Macau. 

But who cares? It was much easier to condemn to the witch-fire the Meteorological Bureau scapegoats. After all, the signal was not hoisted two hours before. As if it had made any difference at all.  

At least the baying mob is satisfied with their blood and have stopped asking [not so] difficult questions. The political exercises go back to the usual fixes – spreading cash around and promising ‘scientific studies’ and popular reviews that seldom anyone sees the result of, defining some priority works and helas! The beauty of perfect governance completely restored. 

*A jobsworth is a person who uses their job description in a deliberately uncooperative way, or who seemingly delights in acting in an obstructive or unhelpful manner. The term can also be applied to those who uphold petty rules even at the expense of humanity or common sense. “Jobsworth” is a British colloquial word.