On this Labour Day, we see that Singapore has made progress in combating the spread of COVID-19. Even as we keep our guard up, we should recognise the nation’s profound debt to our front-liners in the healthcare sector, the security sector, cleaners, delivery personnel and many others, for leading the battle against COVID-19. We in the Workers’ Party, like all fellow Singaporeans, salute them for their efforts. We were glad to see our nurses receive well-deserved pay increments in the course of Budget 2021, and we support such increments for other essential workers as well.
The road ahead is less certain. The global economy remains weak and industry disruption is happening at an accelerating pace. Even as the pandemic ebbs and wanes in cycles today, and when it is effectively managed tomorrow, Singaporeans will have to adapt to a post-pandemic world. It is in this spirit that past and present Workers’ Party MPs have spoken and continued to speak up in Parliament, to put forth alternative policy proposals.
The Workers’ Party has continued our call for a monthly take-home Minimum Wage of S$1,300 to be implemented across the board, so that all our workers have a decent shot at making a living for themselves and their loved ones. While the notion of the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) as Minimum Wage Plus (MW-plus) is not objectionable, we believe that it is vital to get the basics right: first, introduce a wage floor for all sectors as soon as possible, so that workers may have a living wage.
As we deal with rising uncertainty in the global economy, we need to institutionalise automatic stabilizers for workers’ incomes and overall consumer spending, so as to buffer these pressures. The Workers’ Party believes that a redundancy insurance scheme is a practical step towards ensuring achieving these goals. The COVID-19 crisis is an important moment to review the implementation of redundancy insurance; and, separately, to legislate for greater employment protections for our gig-workers, many of whom are lower to middle-income Singaporeans.
In February 2021, Parliament acknowledged climate change as a global emergency. Even as the Workers’ Party agrees with the need for green policies, Singapore will need to ensure a just transition, so that Singaporeans do not get left behind as we move to a greener future. Seen in this light, private-hire drivers, delivery riders, and other members of the workforce that rely on internal combustion engine vehicles to make a living could have benefited from a phasing-in of the petrol duty hikes in step with the development of Electric Vehicle infrastructure.
We must also ensure that efforts continue to be made to improve the conditions of our foreign-worker community, as they contribute significantly to the Singapore story. How our foreign workers are treated – as reflected in our laws, regulations, and attitudes towards them – reflect the values of our society.
The recent barring of all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors from India reinforces the dynamic and ever-changing complexion of the fight against COVID-19. In tandem, the expectation of booster-shots to supplement protection against the virus is a timely reminder of the longer-term nature of the fight against the virus and its mutations.
On this Labour Day, the Workers’ Party reiterates its commitment to walk with Singapore and calls on all Singaporeans to remain resilient and vigilant as the country continues the battle against COVID-19.