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Needy: Pay $10 to get $6 back?

Leong Sze Hian/

Source: fairpricefoundation.org

When TOC's Interim Chief Editor, Ravi Philemon, asked me to write something on the report "NTUC FairPrice to raise $1 million for low-income workers” (Yahoo News, Jun 22)., my first instinct was to take out my TI Business Analyst financial calculator.

$6 a month help?

According to the report, the NTUC-U Care Fund campaign is part of Fund's $10 million fund-raising target for 2011.It went on to state:

“So far, $8.3 million has been raised. The Fund, which helps over 100,000 workers annually, aims to help 130,000 people this year.”

I divided 130,000 people by the NTUC U-Care Fund's $10 million, and got $77.

Does this mean that on the average, each of the 130,000 union members helped may only get about $6 a month ($77 divided by 12 months)?

Pay $10 get $6?

Since NTUC union dues are $117 per annum, does it mean that a needy union member had to pay about $10 a month to get $6 back?

As NTUC has about 580,000 members, it collects about $68 million in fees alone in a year.

How many of NTUC's 12 social enterprise subsidiaries are making profits or losses?

GST increase?

Since the last time GST was raised from 5 to 7 per cent with the reason that it was to help the poor, why it that NTUC, and organisations like the South-West Community Development Council (CDC) had to raise $500,000 to set up a new fund to help residents that need help in areas which are not covered by the existing help schemes, like Comcare, CDC Community Care Fund, etc?

Pro-worker, pro-citizen?

Since NTUC said recently that it wants to be more pro-worker and pro-citizen, I would like to make the following suggestions or ask some questions:-

Whilst it is good to help needy union members, NTUC should focus more on raising the pay of workers. With the real median wage increase per annum at about only 1.1 per cent over the last 10 years or so, many Singaporean workers, particulaly the lower-income may be struggling to make ends meet.

This is perhaps also reflected in the Department of Statistics' (DOS) $374 per capita household income of the bottom decile of employed resident households.

The hourly rate is now only about $5 for most retail sector jobs. Why have we been silent on the issue of labour statistics such as unemployment, jobs, etc, not being broken down into Singaporeans and permanent residents?

Why do we allow labour policies that put Singaporeans at a distinct disadvantage vis-avis foreign workers – no employer CPF contribution, maternity leave, National Service reservist leave, etc, for foreigners?

Why do we allow a Re-employment Act which allows employers to offer any terms and conditions due to reasonable factors like job scope, performance, etc, other than age?

Why do we allow employers to pay just $4,500 to $10,000 to workers who are not offered re-employment at age 62?

What are we doing to protect workers who may already be dismissed even before they reach 62?

Why do we not have an Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, to protect workers from discrimination, like other countries, such as Hong Kong?

Why do we not protect Singaporean as well as Migrant Workers, by signing and ractifying all labolur and workers' rights International Conventions?

Why do we not support a Minimum Wage, when workers are being paid a little as $600 a month?

Why were we silent when the Workmen's Injury Act was changed, limiting employers' liability for medical expenses from industrial accidents to only $25,000?

Why have we not taken up the issue of public hospitals not giving any subsidy for industrial accident patients?

Lastly, how can we have a labour policy which requires employers to insure their foreign workers for $15,000 of medical expenses, but nothing for Singaporeans and PRs?

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