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Netizens sceptical with NTUC FairPrice’s initiative to set coffee price at S$0.50 in an attempt to help citizens with rising costs of living

On Thursday (25 April), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) announced in its May Day message that all its union members can enjoy their daily dose of coffee or tea at only S$0.50 a cup, for the entire month of May.

This offer will be made available for them at more than 90 NTUC Foodfare and Kopitiam food courts and coffee shops in the city-state.

Apart from that, these individuals can also sip these discounted hot drinks every Wednesday from June, and this will last for a year.

Adding to the good news, NTUC also revealed that members of the Pioneer and Merdeka Generations will also be able to purchase a cup of coffee or tea priced at S$0.50 on every Wednesday at all NTUC Foodfare and Kopitiam outlets from July until end of June 2020.

The organisation said that this move will benefit more than 1.7 million people, and it comes as part of FairPrice’s initiative to help ease concerns on costs of living, like by freezing the prices of 100 house bran products until next June.

“NTUC FairPrice has led the way in keeping the prices of essential products low,” said a joint message by NTUC president Mary Liew and the labour movement’s secretary-general Ng Chee Meng.

They added that the acquisition of food court operator Kopitiam that happened last year also extended NTUC’s ability to provide cheaper cooked food available throughout.

This can be seen by all as the affordable breakfast sets will be offered at 52 outlets from June, an increase from the current 25. These sets include a hot drink, toast and two soft boiled eggs, priced at S$1.80 each for NTUC union members and S$2.20 for the general public.

Emphasising the need to help citizens with the rising cost of living, NTUC Foodfare is also wanting to up the number of its Rice Garden outlets to 55 by the end of 2019. Currently, there are 45 outlets that sell cheap mixed rice meals to assist the lower-income group, an initiative part of a social outreach programme.

“The labour movement understands that cost of living remains a key concern of our workers, and will continue to address this in both the immediate and long-run,” said NTUC in its press release.

In addition to addressing the living cost concerns, NTUC also highlighted about the long-term needs of workers in mind rapid disruptions in the May Day message.

“Securing better work prospects for workers is a key imperative given the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0. Workers must be trained in tandem, as Workers 4.0, to not only keep up with this transformation, but secure better work prospects,” the labour movement said.

Speaking separately to reporters, Mr Ng said that the organisation will work with companies to come up with training committees, who will plan and implement programmes to assist employees to stay abreast of new technology.

“The longer-term strategy must be to enable our workers to like new technologies and forge better new prospects. The company training committees will also converge company interests and worker interests (to) help companies transform in tandem with workers,” he said.

After reading this announcement, many netizens remain sceptical over NTUC’s move as they believe that this is just a publicity stunt for the upcoming general election. They penned down their opinion on CNA’s Facebook page where over 60 comments were received.

Others said that although NTUC has reduced the price of these hot drinks, but they still charge a high price for other food items, in order to cover their costs. As such, they call for the overall price at their business outlets, mainly rental for shop owners, to be reduced. This is because if the tenants are charged a high price, then automatically it will hit the customers.

Yeo Yang said he cannot understand why things are sold a lot higher at FairPrice compared to “Ang Mo Supermarket even though they have less than 10 branches in Singapore”.

On the other hand, Nicholas Fanyeong said that the discount for coffee and tea is not much compared to the amount union members have to pay for their yearly subscription. He added that Yishun Hawker center is giving away free coffee, indicating NTUC initiative is nothing to scream about.