The Online Citizen

Some lower-income workers not included in Workfare

Some lower-income workers not included in Workfare
September 28
21:30 2010

The following is an unpublished letter sent to the Straits Times on 22 Sept 2010.

Leong Sze Hian -

I refer to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) letter “Wages : Workfare’sthe long-term answer” (ST, Sep 22) in response to Professor Tommy Koh’s“basic pay : Tommy Koh weighs in” (ST, Sep 15).

Whilst Workfare does help to supplement the income of lower-incomeworkers, it excludes the following categories of lower-income workers:-
- those who are below 35 years old
- permanent residents (PRs)
- those who were only able to find work for less than 3 months in any 6-month period,
- some of the 84,400 unemployed residents in June, of whom about 16,500 had been out of work for more than 6 months
- low income self-employed persons who cannot afford to pay their CPF Medisave contribution. For example, a 44 year old earning $800 a month, may not have the disposable cash of $213 a year to contribute, in order to receive $660into his Medisave which he cannot use unless he needs medical treatment.

This same income worker if he is employed, will only get about $24 cash a month because about $59 of Workfare is credited to his CPF.

Can MOM give us the statistics on how many people earn less than $1,700 a month (which is the maximum income eligible for Workfare), $1,500 and $1,200, and how many of these do not get any Workfare because they fall into the excluded categories described above?

I have been doing financial counseling for the needy for many years, and often encounter lower income Singaporeans like cleaners and road sweepers who now earn only about $650 a month, or persons with disabilities who earn around $300 a month in a full-time job.

The primary difference between a minimum wage and Workfare, is that a minimum wage would apply to everyone, without excluding so many people.

Finally, a minimum wage will generally put more disposable cash in the hands of workers to help meet their living expenses, instead of Workfare whereby all (self-employed) or the bulk (76 per cent for employees) goes to CPF.

  • andrewong2024

    Well rebutted Sze Hian!

    In my opinion, the gahmen is more concern about sustaining their own pockets than the average or below average Singaporean’s.

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  • iaintnoHARDCORE

    wah..even worst than i assumed..
    i xpect the unofficial minimum wages is $800/month (based on towncoucil mployin the hawker centre cleaner wages)
    now i onLEE knew it just $650/month..
    ~sigh~

  • andrew leung

    Hong Kong: workfare in the world’s freest economy – Chak Kwan Chan

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2397.2009.00712.x/abstract

    Workfare was introduced in many countries to suppress welfare dependency and reduce social security expenditures. However, workfare was launched in Hong Kong when there was only a relatively small social security budget and its citizens still strongly adhered to the ideologies of self-reliance. It was found that workfare has performed several functions in Hong Kong. First, by forcing unemployed claimants to give up benefits, Hong Kong has been able to save on social security expenditures. Second, workfare has combined with Hong Kong’s semi-democratic polity so that extremely stigmatising welfare measures have been implemented. Third, it has pushed poor citizens into the labour market without having any protection over wages and working hours. Thus, the combination of workfare and a semi-democratic polity has successfully suppressed Hong Kong’s welfare demands and strengthened its self-help spirit. As a result, Hong Kong’s minimal social security scheme and its low tax policy have been maintained.

  • fpc

    monies going into medisave goes back to govt because they charge excessive medical bills in their public hospitals.

    So, it is as good as not giving the monies out.

  • masterservant

    What is the reason for this report to include PR. Are these citizens or people on standby, to rob local of a job.

    Basically, wage supplement is nothing but an illusion. Its gov plan to rob all on “how to think” what is right and required.

    MW does not work if foreigners are allowed to come in by the droves, freely.

  • masterservant

    What is the reason for this comment to include PR. Are these citizens or people on standby, to rob local of a job.

    Basically, wage supplement is nothing but an illusion. Its gov plan to rob all on “how to think” what is right and required.

    MW does not work if foreigners are allowed to come in by the droves, freely.

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  • lord robert

    An independent body is a must to check on the government. No one can claim that they are clean and paying themselves millions does not mean the top officials will stay clean.This is why an independent body must be in authority to do the check and balances. Transprency is the name of the game. True blue Singaporeans must not be taken for a ride. These are tax payers money and we true blue Singaporeans has the right to know what is going on.
    Whether it is the foreigners influx, the high cost of housing, medical and education the reports in the media is just one side of the coin.True blue Singaporeans are
    slogging day and night. The hours worked are more than the lagal requirement in many sectors. Why are these happening. Once again no independent body to question the government. What is NTUC doing abut all this? 2 years of stealing right under the nose of a so called goverment that claims to be the best and knows what is the best for true blue Singaporeans.
    Peace N Love

  • walamak

    walamak

    another sad story when read about this workfare thing…
    hope all people got job do, got income to support family & live happy

    take care & GOD bless all

    walamak

  • iaintnoHARDCORE

    lord robert 29 September 2010
    An independent body is a must to check on the government. No one can claim that they are clean and paying themselves millions does not mean the top officials will stay clean
    …………..
    singapoor is cleaned what..
    even a former SLA government/semigovernment servant can clean out $11.1million$ without leekingyou’s knowledge/approval..
    best joke the former sla mother owned/drove a highend benz(2 doors i think)

  • commentator

    What??! Workfare goes into CPF? This is as good as the govt paying themselves!

  • gail

    I think that from the government’s standpoint, a policy like excluding those who work less than 6 months a year from Workfare encourages people to remain employed and maintain a steady income, much like excluding single parents from the Baby Bonus is supposed to discourage single parenthood.

    Maybe there’s nothing wrong with policies trying to nudge society in a certain direction per se; but I think that if we choose to go down such a route then more has to be done to address the issue of what then happens to those who fall through the cracks, and what is being done to ENABLE them to break out of it.

  • Atobe

    Clearly the Pro Alien Party has no intention of allowing any monetary schemes to reach the pockets of any Singaporeans who need such financial help.

    How does Workfare help Singaporean workers when the bulk of the amount is creditted into the CPF ?

    The Workfare will probably help the Government of the Pro Alien Party more then Singaporeans.

    With more then half of Workfare going to the CPF, and with the CPF inaccessible to Singaporeans until past age 85, the only beneficiary will be the Government of the Pro Alien Party that has access to our CPF.

    Is the Pro Alien Party capable of any policy that will truly benefit Singaporeans ?

  • V

    Why was this letter not published in the ST? The main problem with cherry picking what to publish and not is. At some point the writer you choose to delete will simply not bother to write any more, worst he will influence others to do the same. If that happens, what will happen to that newspaper or blog?

  • anonymous

    this is standard PAP SOP.
    beg you to go to them for crumbs.

    shows that they have no sincerity to help people at all. if not for all the rumblings from the ground its still u die ur business.

    previously there was even a condition that ur house must be below a certain value. and one 1 or 2 areas in sg qualify.

    please vote out PAP!

  • Good Game

    Provide workfare for PR?
    you want singaporeans to rage, is it?

  • senseless

    some of the 84,400 unemployed residents in June, of whom about 16,500 had been out of work for more than 6 months
    and believe or not our dear PM said this year going to bring in at least 80000 more PRs and foreigners in. Are they creating hundreds of thousand of high paying jobs ???

  • ihavNOtearsforyou

    senseless 7 October 2010
    some of the 84,400 unemployed residents in June, of whom about 16,500 had been out of work for more than 6 months
    and believe or not our dear PM said this year going to bring in at least 80000 more PRs and foreigners in. Are they creating hundreds of thousand of high paying jobs ???
    ……………
    ASD
    There is no need to ridicule people for travelling the world with louis vitton bags. do you know the poster personally? for all you know he/she is a poor singaporean who has never set foot outside of singapore. second. what makes you think the poor peasants are happy. How you actually gone to europe and spent a lot of time there? do you know the problems with crime, corruption, the strikes, work stoppages, dissent, anger, poverty…have you actually paid attention to European politics?? In addition, do you actually know who runs the states of Europe? do you know most of them are well educated, upper middle class folks who arent miners/pesants etc? They are professional politicians. Some of them may have humbler backgrounds but most of them have degrees and are assisted by the best economists, specialists and sceintists they can hire. Fourth, who are the majority??? the majority are all of us. can you dare say that we are worse off than states in europe? or the US? HAVE YOU LIVED THERE. Every state has its problems. Singaproe has problems as well. But it is safe, prosperous, and people HAVE JOBS. PEOPLE ARE WELL FED. if you speak about inequality do you actually know what kind of inequalities rend the US, or the UK…every state has its problems. but Singapore, coming from 3rd world to 1st has a HUGE DEBT to the first generation of leaders…not just MM Lee, but the management of the ministers then catapulted our growth. we are the majority. learn to be grateful and read about world politics for goodness sake before you start motor mouthing others
    ………..
    why don’t we start seekin our esteem forumer ASD for a start? i am very very sured he is a poor singapoorium simpLEE becoz he carry no louis vuitton…
    he a mubble jumble super echalon of the scholars amon skolars…
    remembered his last sentence…
    READ about world politics…
    than again..maggie thatcher who was the 1st woman prime minister in britain start her 1st moves..she revoke/cancelled all foreign workpermits whether you are a doctor or a nanny irregardless…to stop the overidden 3miilions unmployed british…

    so ASD ere i am still badmouthin…
    hav you ever drank a zebra piss before?
    if not why not? nelson mandala very xperienced politician mey? why he studied in a prison for 27 ears before he graduated?
    and without a doubt singapore did won a world cup in whatever cups you wanna drink/sink/vormit as well…
    when maotzetung died..the WHOLE of china cried for him…without even makin it an official mournin day…
    till today the chinese peasants are very very happy..do you want me to make ever china chinese smiled to prove me wrong?
    crime and corruptions? hahaha..in china they shoot corrupted official whether egalised or not?
    ole by the way who run china now?
    the general grandson of maotzetung perhaps? and the chinese trillion$ reserves muz be run by mrs mao the grandaughter of maotzetung perhaps?
    you did DEMAND i read politics…
    i read…
    juz in case YOU are TOO stupid…
    would you liked to help the prime minister LEE to find 164,000 jobs…
    which is why i paste the top paragraph
    juz for idiot/lacky liked YOU who come ere chestrumpin liked tarzen…
    oar eee oar ee hor…

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