By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the reply by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), “Wage data available on MOM website” (Straits Times Forum, Aug 22), to Seah Ru Hong’s letter, “Still waiting for wage report” (Aug 19).

Mr Seah said in his letter that a “key publication on income”, the Report On Wages 2012, has not been released by MOM.

“More than a year later, the 2012 edition has still not been published. It is not even listed on the MOM’s online schedule of future releases. Has the ministry discontinued its publication?”

The MOM replied and said that the data Mr Seah seeks is available on its website. MOM provided the url to the website as: www.mom.gov.sg.

The MOM’s web site has thousands of pages. So, the least that the MOM could have done in its reply was to provide the exact link or the name of the report where one can find the data. Was all the data in the now discontinued Annual Report on Wages, or just some of it?

Also, why is there no explanation for the ministry discontinuing with  the report?How are Singaporeans expected to be able to do any historical comparative analysis?

The MOM letter also informed Mr Seah that he “can also find a new occupational wage search tool to facilitate salary benchmarking.”

As there were no exact url or web links provided in MOM’s letter, I had a hard time finding it by using various key words like “occupational wage” using the search facility on the MOM web site.

Eventually, I found the “new occupational wage search tool to facilitate salary benchmarking” by going through the “sitemap”.

MOM, which is in the forefront of the productivity movement, should be more efficient in this age of the Internet.

Income data disappeared too?

I would also like to refer to the MOM’s reply “Income data on MOM website” (Straits Times Forum, Aug 17) to Tan Boon Khai’s letter, “Bring back data on income levels” (Aug 14).

Mr Tan had requested that data of active Central Provident Fund members by income brackets be re-inserted into the Yearbook of Statistics, as a means to track how Singaporean incomes have changed over time.

MOM replied saying, “To analyse local income trends, he can refer to the Ministry Of Manpower’s annual report on the Labour Force in Singapore on its website (www.mom.gov.sg). The report contains detailed information on income in Singapore, including employed residents in various income brackets as well as a further breakdown into full-timers and part-timers.”

MOM’s reply gives no explanation as to what Mr Tan had asked – why has the income data disappeared from the CPF Annual report?

It may be significant to note that the income data in the CPF Annual Report may be quite different from the MOM’s report.

For example,  there are about 294,364 or about 17 per cent local workers earning less than $1,000, against the 238,000 figure in the MOM report.

The difference between the two is a significant 56,364  or a difference of about 19 per cent.

Using the new occupational wage search tool on MOM’s website, we find that the median monthly gross wage of cleaners, labourers and related workers is only $1,000.

This is even lower than the $1,020 in June 2011 according to the MOM Annual Report on Wages 2011.

And we have not even factored in inflation at 4.6 per cent last year yet.

So, does it mean that cleaners, labourers and related workers’ median wage has continued to decline in real terms by an estimated 6.6 per cent since last year.

We should also keep in mind that the National Wages Council (NWC) had recommended a $50 increase for low-wage workers earning less than $1,000.

So, all the rosy news reports recently such as “Workers’ pay up ‘due to NTUC initiative” (Straits Times, Aug 22), “10,000 cleaners set to get pay increases“, Channel NewsAsia, Oct 18, etc – may need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

One would have to type in the occupation of each type of worker, one at a time, to search under MOM’s  new occupational wage search tool to analyse the data.

Perhaps there is some report somewhere within the MOM’s web site which is as comprehensive as the discontinued wage report to facilitate wage analysis. So if anyone of you, the readers, can find this, I would be very grateful if you could let me know.

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