"You wish everybody a Happy May Day, but are workers here truly happy?
They are worried sick about retrenchment."
- Dr Chee Soon Juan
After his walkabout on May Day, Dr Chee gave an impassioned door-stop interview where he spoke at length about his plans for Singaporean workers who were retrenched or who were at risk of being retrenched.
Dr Chee begun by talking about the dark cloud that loomed over economic prospects and how many workers in Singapore are worried about their job security. He shared that many workers he spoke with over the past 2 months in Bukit Batok and around Singapore shared with him that they feared losing their jobs if the economy takes a turn for the worse. He assured them that the SDP will fight for increased protection for Singaporean Workers against retrenchment. In the event where retrenchment is inevitable, he said that the SDP does have a policy in place that would act as a 'shock absorber' by softening the blow of retrenchment. He vowed to push for the implementation of the policy in Parliament if elected.
"When your bills keep piling up and you have no income all of a sudden, what are you going to do? What are your children going to do? These are very real concerns on the ground which we want to address."
He then referred the journalists to the SDP's Economic Policy Paper released last February. In it, he argued, lay a comprehensive and detailed plan on how retrenchment can be tackled. The retrenchment insurance scheme was entitled RESTART (Re-Employment Scheme and Temporary Assistance for the ReTrenched).
He gave the interviewers a brief overview of RESTART by explaining how it would be funded
1. 1st 6 months after retrenchment: 75% of last drawn salary, 2nd 6 months: 50% of last drawn salary, 3rd 6 months: 25% of last drawn salary.
2. MOM will assist participants in seeking re-employment and matching them on salary and skills to the new jobs. Participants cannot reject more than 3 job offers.
3. The RESTART payouts will be capped of the prevailing median wage.
4. RESTART will be funded by state (80%), employers (10%), and employees (10%). The programme will require a $2 billion budget (annualised basis).
He explained that this measure not only helps retrenched workers tide through tough times, but it also encourages them to actively seek employment. He cited examples of similar policies in other Asian countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan which have proven to be successful.
He stressed that measures to protect Singaporean workers are of utmost importance as he foresees that in the second half of 2016, the number of retrenchments in Singapore will increase sharply. Following which, he questioned if the Government had any plans to 'take care of them.'
Dr Chee also called on the Government to protect Singaporean workers by introducing legislation that would force employers to retrench foreign workers first, before trenching Singaporean workers.
Last year, out of 32,000 jobs created.. Listen to this carefully ok?
Only 0.3% - 100 jobs - went to Singaporeans.
You tell me, does this make any sense to you at all?
Convinced that the Government is not doing enough to protect Singaporean Workers, he pledged to Singaporean workers that the SDP would protect them. He referred to workers as the 'building blocks of our economy' and warned that if the Government failed to protect them, Singapore's economy would crumble.