The Reform Party's May Day Message:
The Reform Party wishes all Singaporean workers and their families a happy May Day 2010. We would like to take this opportunity to remind people that the Reform Party’s objective is to raise the living standards of all Singaporeans rather than just maximising the size of our GDP by allowing the import of foreign workers at Third World wage rates. The impact of these policies has been adverse for median real incomes, which have stagnated over the past decade and disastrous for those in the bottom 20% who have seen a fall in real incomes of the order of 20%.
The Reform Party has always emphasised productivity growth rather than GDP growth on its own as the key to higher living standards and pointed out Singapore’s abysmal record in this regard over the last decade. In the last Budget we forced an apparent U-turn by the PAP who made measures to improve productivity the cornerstone of the Budget. However with the fragile recovery in the US economy, as well as China’s switch to domestic demand-led expansion driven by enormous state-directed growth in bank lending, the emphasis on productivity seems to be being quietly forgotten in favour of a return to the old growth model fuelled by abundant supplies of cheap labour from abroad.
These are some of the policies the Reform Party would adopt, with the aim both of raising productivity and improving the position of our workers, when it is in government:
1. A minimum wage applicable to all workers except those in certain sectors, like domestic workers and possibly construction, where few Singaporeans work. This would force employers to use labour more productively and reduce the incentive to bring in foreign labour to replace Singaporeans
2. Allowing independent trade unions and removing some of the restrictions on industrial action provided appropriate democratic safeguards are in place to prevent damage to companies and the interests of the majority of workers caused by a small minority. The Reform Party believes that free trade unions and empowerment of the workforce are vital to raising productivity.
3. A tightening of the current very liberal foreign worker policy, particularly the S-pass, where the foreign workers compete directly with semi-skilled Singaporean workers for jobs. Requirement for employers to demonstrate that they are unable to get Singaporean workers at the prevailing wage rate rather than being able to sack their Singaporean workforce and bring in cheaper workers from abroad.
4. Anti-discrimination legislation to cover sex, race, and age discrimination.
5. Increased investment in education and training, particularly for workers laid off as a result of technological change and for women seeking to re-enter the labour force.
6. Introduction of limited paternity leave as well as greater rights to flexible working.
7. Tax rebates and other benefits for Singaporeans who have served NS on a much more substantial scale than the token amounts currently provided.
However without your help and support we will never get a chance to introduce policies that will directly benefit you and the majority of working Singaporeans. We will never even get seats in Parliament unless you vote for us. And you may not even get a chance to vote unless we get enough candidates and the donations necessary to finance them. The PAP would like you to believe that their expansion of the NCMP scheme will provide you with sufficient alternative voices in Parliament. However NCMPs are toothless and cannot vote on most matters of substance including the Budget. If you don’t want another ten years of income stagnation and being forced to take lower-skilled jobs or work part-time because of competition from cheaper, younger foreign workers (many of whose education has been subsidised by your taxes) who haven’t had to do NS or pay CPF contributions then you need to come forward now. The link below will take you to the various options for Getting Involved on the website:
Picture from Reform Party's website.