In response to questions asked by Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai in relation to whether or not local workers have been disadvantaged while urging the Government to make “another one small step” to implement a blanket living wage for our workers,” Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said that the Government “took that big step in 2007” with the implementation of Workfare which came at “no cost to the employer” and was therefore “no disemployment risk to the worker”.
Mrs Teo emphasised that the “step” was already taken in 2007, as she urged everyone to “recognise that” as the “broadest base approach” the Government can provide to low-income workers.
The Minister went on to say that Workfare payments were done monthly and allowed low wage workers to not only provide for their families but to also build up their CPF so – like all Singaporeans – they have the prospect to “not just provide for their families” but “to provide for themselves in retirement”.
In answering Mr Leong’s notion on the “small step” measure, she expressed that the Workfare was already a “big step” in 2007.
In relation to Mr Leong’s other question on whether or not local workers had been disadvantaged, Mrs Teo cited the “tremendous trauma” that Singapore’s employment market went through in 2020, noting that the “employment contraction was 170 plus thousand” with the segment hit most being foreign workforce at 180 thousand.
The Minister said that the “resident workforce actually grew” modestly, before asking “which country can actually produce this report card?”
“In what way has the local workforce been disadvantaged?” she concluded.
Correction: The previous of highest foreign workforce at being 18 thousand is incorrect, it is 180 thousand. We apologise for the error.