The PAP government has reluctantly and belatedly increased wages of low income workers after public pressure. The percentage increase may seem impressive but it actually adds up only to tens of dollars. Many low wage workers have not receive such an increase. After receiving stagnant wages for more than a decade, the high percentage increase means very little in high cost Singapore.
The PAP has been overreliant on boosting productivity using the immigration/population policy shortcut for about 2 decades. GDP figures and civil service bonuses depend on this shortcut.
If the PAP was able to increase the wages of low income workers, say $1,500 and below, it would already have done so years ago.
Taking 2011 CPF figures, there are about 500,000 workers earning $1,500 and below. An initial increase of $100 will raise the wage cost only $600 million a year. ($100 X 12 X 500,000=$600 million)
Even if the increase is $300, this would amount to only $1.8 billion. Seen in the context of our $372 billion GDP, if such a negligible percentage increase can cause businesses to collapse, these businesses should have rightly folded years ago.
What the PAP does is fear monger low wage workers into accepting their lot, psychologically stripping them of their rights.
Low-income workers are those doing menial jobs such as cleaners and security guards. The pay of a cleaner has been stagnant since more than a decade ago.
What is most disingenuous about the PAP is its insistence on tying the pay increase to productivity increase. From 2000 to 2009, productivity grew by only 1% annually whereas the prices of everything has skyrocketed. Why does the PAP continue to depress the salaries of low wage workers when they could be easily lifted?
The real fear of the PAP is the knock on effect of this increase. When wages of security guards and cleaners are increased without a similar increase of, say, bus drivers, bus drivers may switch jobs. Admin personnel, service staff and junior nursing staff will also react with a demand for a salary increase. Supervisors and managers will follow suit. Ultimately this will lead to a salary spike for every worker.
The government is mindful not to allow this to happen and so it rejects the minimum wage proposal. Instead, it has quietly pushed for the gradual wage increase in the cleaning, landscape and security sectors.
Businesses, especially those controlled by the PAP, and the mainstream media will continue to paint an economic doomsday scenario to prevent low wages from being adjusted to a fair level. The lower educated workers do not have any chance for their voices to be heard as ‘unions’ are controlled by a pro business government with vested interests.
The disservice by NTUC continues with the “Appreciating U” movement. Treats will be given to cleaners in appreciation of their contributions and ‘recognition certificates’ are also given. Khaw Boon Wan had said there no point in having a degree as they cannot be eaten. So a “recognition certificate” got use, can eat meh? High tea, lunch treats, vouchers, outings and movie screenings are some of the freebies which will be pledged by employers to show their appreciation. Hmm..so NTUC still does not know what low wage workers really need?
By showing its appreciation, NTUC hopes to placate workers to continue accepting low wages. This is clearly double standard unless politicians and the civil service apply this to themselves.
I would suggest politicians walk the talk and forgo their million dollar salaries. How about taxpayers implementing a similar “Appreciating the Government” movement where politicians are treated to high tea/lunch/dinner at the Fullerton Hotel , movie screenings at Golden Village (Gold Class), outings to Gardens by the Bay, etc. How about a “recognition diploma/degree” from NTUC?
Low wage workers need a belated wage adjustment, not these cheapskate freebies and useless certificates of appreciation.
The PAP is aware of its failure to raise productivity for decades and has intentionally tied productivity increase to the salary increase of low wage workers to depress their salary.
If the wages of low wage workers are allowed to increase, this will have a knock on effect and increase the wages of admin staff, service staff, nurses, supervisor, managers, etc
While Singapore Inc can clearly stomach the ‘shock therapy’ for low wage workers, the disastrous knock on effects on other industries will likely cause the economy to collapse.
As such, the PAP must continue with its ‘wayang’ to prevent low wage workers from earning a decent salary.