Car workshop hires special individuals

National 2 minutes, 51 seconds

BELAIT

A GROUP of four deaf ex-students from Pusat Bahagia Eric Goh are leading the revival of a car wash at one of Belait's biggest auto workshops.

Helmi Asmiroy Lanjar, Lutfi Hussin and Chan Shih Chung first joined Hock Siong Hin Auto Workshop in September last year after its operations manager recruited them to boost the workshop's flagging car wash service.

A close friend of the three, Md Faizal Md Yusof, later joined the group in November.

“We have always had a car wash service, but in 2012 we had to stop openly advertising it because we could no longer offer it consistently because there was a shift in labour laws, which said only locals could do car washes,” said Operations Manager Aki Ibrahim.

“The locals we recruited initially were inconsistent and could not be relied on. When you have workers coming in for a week then leaving, or not showing up for days after getting paid, the customer complaints begin to rise. How can we claim to offer a car wash when we cannot even fix a reliable schedule?”

During his search for Bruneian employees, Aki tried to reach out to a number of organisations including the Local Employment and Workforce Development Agency (APTK), while continuing to post flyers on notice boards at commercial centres in Belait.

“Eventually I reached out to Pusat Bahagia Eric Goh, and the acting head Winnieyanti Hj Sumy said the centre had able-bodied persons who were looking for employment,” said Aki.

“We managed to recruit three, adding a fourth later. They have absolutely exceeded all our expectations; they are reliable, consistent and perform to a high standard. The car wash has been on the up ever since.”

The group of four were offered full-time contracts last month, after six months of training.

They began working half days starting at 8am, progressing to full days until 5pm, and most recently, upon the group’s own request, they have been working overtime until 6pm.

They are currently being paid $400 a month, with the 30-year-old company looking to expand their car wash service into a specialised cleaning and grooming division to allow the team to take on more responsibility by offering more services that can bring extra income.

“Standard prices for our car wash are eight, 10 and 12 dollars for small, medium and large cars.

“Normally, if a car is serviced with M oil and changes their oil filter, we offer a complimentary car wash. Starting next month however, we are looking to introduce a small charge of $3 dollars as a top-up to allow for the workers to earn a little more,” he added.

Md Faisal, who gestured in sign language translated by Winnieyanti yesterday, said he was very satisfied with the responsibility given to him to head the car wash, with his team of four integrated themselves into the workshop's environment.

He said having a steady and reliable salary has also allowed him to move forward with his plans to get married to his fiancee, whom he met at Pusat Bahagia.

Winnieyanti, who continues to make regular visits to the workshop, says the group is playing a part in making a positive shift in employers' perception of hiring those with special needs.

“This has been one of the big success stories for Pusat Bahagia Eric Goh. You can tell that all four enjoy what they do here, and are accepted and treated just like everyone else,” she said.

The Brunei Times