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Helping low-wage workers: “Wayang” continues?

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Helping low-wage workers: “Wayang” continues?

Post by Darkmen on Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:31 pm

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Better pay for some low-wage workers?

I refer to the article[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.](Straits Times, Aug 26).

It states that “Meanwhile, the landscape industry is “losing the Singaporean core”, Mr Zainal said, emphasising the need to encourage locals to join the industry.

Chairman of the Landscape Industry Association of Singapore John Tan agreed.

He said: “This has never been an industry where there is a ready flow of local people who want to work in it – it’s a menial, back-breaking job.”

Landscape workers’ real wage dropped 17%?

According to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) occupational wages benching tool, the median basic and gross wage of Park and Garden Maintenance Workers in 2012, was $900 and $1,000, respectively.

In June 2011, their wages were $1,020 and $1,050, respectively, according to the now discontinued annual Report on Wages.

Since Inflation from June 2011 to June 2012 was 5.3 per cent, does it mean that their basic and gross wage had negative real median wage growth of about minus 17 and 10 per cent, respectively?

“Reassuring them that steps are being taken to address their anxieties”?

As to “NTUC yesterday also released its findings from three focus group sessions held earlier this month to identify the concerns of low-wage workers, while reassuring them that steps are being taken to address their anxieties.

Chief among the concerns are low salaries that fail to keep up with inflation, discrimination, lack of support from employers, lack of awareness of employment rights, and the inaccessibility of training opportunities”

So many schemes after so many years?

- according to Wikipedia – “While the Progressive Wage Model concept was only introduced by the Labour Movement in June 2012, this remuneration model is actually an amalgamation of various existing programmes and initiatives over the years by the Labour Movement to help workers in Singapore upgrade and up-skill themselves to be able to earn higher wages. These programmes and initiatives include the Skills Redevelopment Programme, the Job Redevelopment Programme, the Best Sourcing Initiatives, and the Inclusive Growth Programme, among others. All of these already help workers in Singapore improve themselves to be able to take on better-paying jobs. However, the Progressive Wage Model takes things a step further by ensuring employers’ commitment to their employees’ career growth, better wages and increased productivity.”

The ‘no statistics’ “wayang” continues?

So, pardon my language – but the “wayang” continues, after so many schemes after so many years to help low-wage workers increase their pay. You see most of the rosy media reports that you read about how a few hundred workers (such as airport trolley handlers) here or a few thousand workers (cleaners) there increasing their pay, may be quite meaningless, because what we need to know are the statistics for all the workers in the particular occupational category or for that matter all low-wage workers.

Leong Sze Hian

Leong Sze Hian is the Past President of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, an alumnus of Harvard University, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow and an author of 4 books. He is frequently quoted in the media. He has also been invited to speak more than 100 times in 25 countries on 5 continents. He has served as Honorary Consul of Jamaica, Chairman of the Institute of Administrative Management, and founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Brunei and Indonesia. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional qualifications. He blogs at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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