Friday, 22 September 2023

We are shifting our daily news to Gutzy.Asia Support us there!

NTUC: Champion carnival organiser or champion for workers’ rights?


By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the articles “NTUC tweaks scheme so more can enjoy free carnivals” and “Labour movement ‘won’t be affected by departure’” (Straits Times, Jun 3).

Read news get nausea?

Sometimes (getting more often nowadays), when you read the news on a Monday morning, you feel like vomiting (so far, haven’t really vomit yet, but almost).

When I read the above news reports, I almost choked on the roti prata that I was eating.

Champion carnival organiser?

The former article states that “NTUC Club will organise six carnivals this year, aiming to benefit 15,000 low-income union members and their families.

The NTUC is raising its income ceiling for union members and their families, so that more can attend the free carnivals that it organises through the year.

Now, households with a total monthly income of up to $3,500, or $875 for each family member, can benefit from the scheme.

Previously, only those in households with a monthly income of $3,000, or $750 for each member, could go to these carnivals at Downtown East, where they get free food, admission to a water park and unlimited play at game stalls, among other things”.

Or champion for workers’ rights?

When I read the above, the first thought that came to my mind was – is the NTUC a champion carnival organiser or a champion for workers’ rights, particularly lower-income workers.

I believe that ever since it started organising “free carnivals for lower-income members” – it has been organising more until the current 6 in a year.

When you have a question – google.

Definition of trade union?

So, I googled “unions” – “A modern definition (of trade unions) by the Australian Bureau of Statistics states that a trade union is “an organization consisting predominantly of employees, the principal activities of which include the negotiation of rates of pay and conditions of employment for its members.”

If you look at the above definition of trade unions, the key words are “rates of pay and conditions of employment”.

How effective?

Let’s examine how effective (ineffective) Singapore has been in this regard.

The number of low-wage workers has been increasing –  the number earning less than $1,000 a month increased by about 1 per cent from 236,300 in 2011 to 238,000 (against 15,000 who will benefit from carnivals”) in 2012 (and we have not even factored in inflation at about 4.6% last year).

More and more low-wage workers?

Of this 238,000 workers, 114,100 were full-time workers, which is an increase of about 3.4 per cent from 2011′s 110,400.

Carnival more “benefit” than more pay?

As to “Ms Saria Mohamed Yusof, who attended her first carnival yesterday … The single parent supports three children on $755 a month” – do you think getting higher wages (can you imagine trying to support herself and 3 children on just $755 a month) is more important to her than attending a freebie carnival?

Is our labour movement in a way, focusing on the wrong priorities or what?

Labour MPs and leaders leaving?

Since we are on the subject of how effective trade unions are or have been in Singapore – the latter article referenced above said “The departures of seven labour MPs and high profile leaders of the NTUC since the 2011 General Election will not affect the effectiveness of the union movement”.

Who’s kidding who? – “effectiveness of the union movement” – kind of like the understatement of the decade!

Hopefully, what so many labour MPs weren’t able to do to really help lower-wage workers, will improve now that so many have left.

Oh no – not another “2 hats” union chief?

With regard to “When asked what traits his successor needs to have, Mr Lim said he has to be accepted by both the labour movement and the Prime Minister Minister and his Cabinet, if he is to represent workers’ interests in Cabinet. Do not rule out someone from the Cabinet being appointed labour chief too” – I think here lies the fundamental issue with our labour movement – Isn’t there a conflict of interest? How is the labour chief really going to fight for workers’ interests when he is also part of the Government (Cabinet)?

Union chief accepted by workers?

Also, by the way, did we forget about being  accepted by the workers? Or they don’t really matter?

Let’s hope that the next union chief will do a better job at raising wages for lower-income workers.

Bad, very lousy wage statistics? 

In the final analysis (of effectiveness) – like I always say – let the numbers do the talking:

Singapore has no minimum wage (see chart of 13 developed countries), lowest domestic purchasing power (see chart of 19 countries), 2nd lowest purchasing power parity (see chart of 20 countries), 2nd lowest median nominal wages after tax (see chart of 7 countries), negative real  income growth for the 1st decile of employed households from 2000 to 2010 (see chart), etc (“NWC: Oh no, not again?“, Jun 3).

Uniquely Singapore!


Latest posts

Election surprises and certainties: Dissecting Tharman’s presidential win

In the 2023 Presidential Election, Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam secured a stunning 70.4% landslide victory, surprising many, including himself. Despite expectations that TKL would win the opposition votes, voters from both camps showed a preference for Tharman's charisma and perceived competency. As Singapore reflects on the outcome, questions arise about the election's fairness and the real implications of Tharman's dominant win.

Volunteer as a Polling and Counting Agent for Singapore’s 2023 Presidential Election

For the upcoming Singapore Presidential Election on 1st September, members of the civil society have spearheaded an initiative to strengthen our democratic fabric. We invite committed individuals to join us as Polling and Counting Agents, standing together for a transparent, fair, and just election. This vote counting exercise, organized by members of civil society, is not specifically in support of Mr Tan Kin Lian, a candidate in the upcoming Presidential Election. It's an exercise in active citizenry. Nonetheless, Mr Tan endorses this initiative, which hinges on his candidacy, championing transparency, and has given permission for the results to be shared publicly.

Reflections from the Centenary: The Legacy of LKY and Singapore’s Future

Gilbert Goh reflects on the LKY centenary event: an inspiring showcase of a leader's global legacy juxtaposed against current challenges, urging Singapore to continue its path of progress.

Lim Tean advocates for Tan Kin Lian: A visionary leader for Singapore’s Presidency

In his speech at Mr Tan Kin Lian's launch of his presidential bid, Mr Lim Tean passionately championed the need for a truly Independent President. Highlighting Mr Tan Kin Lian's unique credentials and genuine concern for the wellbeing of Singaporeans, the Peoples Voice leader emphasized the pressing challenges of rising living costs and job insecurities faced by the public. Mr Lim depicted Mr Tan Kin Lian as a beacon of hope for the nation, advocating for a leader who genuinely understands and represents the people’s aspirations.

Tan Jee Say endorses Tan Kin Lian for President: A courageous, genuine, and humble...

In advocating for a truly representative leader, Tan Jee Say underscored Tan Kin Lian's humility, courage, and genuine dedication. Highlighting the pressing need for restored public trust and effective independence, Tan Jee Say emphasized that Tan Kin Lian, as the 'People's President', would bring back hope to Singaporeans and champion true democracy

Tan Kin Lian’s pledge: Rekindling unity and charting a vigorous future for Singapore

In the press conference to announce his bid for the Singapore presidency, Tan Kin Lian emphasizes safeguarding Singapore's reserves and strengthening public service integrity. Drawing on his 30-year leadership at NTUC Income, he envisions a future with affordable living, accessible housing, and job stability, pledging collaboration with the government for a united nation.

Strengthening Singapore’s political foundations: A call to action by Leong Mun Wai on Singapore’s...

Leong Mun Wai urges Singaporeans to strengthen political checks and balances, emphasizing, 'The best is yet to be for Singapore if we dare to make the right decision in upcoming elections.

Trending posts