Is the Govt coming up with a more convoluted way of dealing with minimum wage because it does not want to give WP any credence or recognition? 

Is the Govt coming up with a more convoluted way of dealing with minimum wage because it does not want to give WP any credence or recognition? 

The Worker’s Party (WP) has long championed the need for Singapore to implement a minimum wage for all workers. Various members of parliament (MP) from the WP including party chief, Pritam Singh and Sengkang MP Jamus Lim have raised this in Parliament on several occasions and had called on the Government to mandate a salary of at least $1300 for workers.

Alternative parties such as Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) also supports the idea of a minimum wage. SDP in its manifesto, proposes a minimum wage of $10 an hour or $1,760 a month, based on a 44-hours work week. It states that minimum wage should also be coupled with pro-employment policies, social transfers which allow for low-income workers to obtain a living standard.

This suggestion of a minimum wage had always been shot down by the ruling Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) on the basis that we already had the Progressive Work Model (PWM) in place.

Minister of State for Manpower and Education, Gan Siow Huang warned that a minimum wage would result in low-wage workers losing jobs while Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that the existing PWM and its sectoral approach enable the minimum rung to be set at suitable levels for each sector, whereas a single national minimum wage would force a decision on where to place it – which could be too low or too high.

Further, then Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo, had insisted that in the last five years, workers in PWM sectors have seen cumulative wage growth of around 30 per cent, compared to 21 per cent for workers at the median. Despite the WP pointing out that the PWM only catered to workers from certain industries and did not apply across the board, meaning that some workers will be left out, the PAP held firm, insisting that the PWM and Workshare were enough.

It, therefore, comes as rather a surprise when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, announces at the National Day rally that low wage workers will now have some level of protection income-wise. PM Lee said that all companies who hire foreign workers will have to pay all local employees at least a Local Qualifying Salary (LQS)of S$1,400. The LQS will also be adjusted from time to time.

The LQS has hitherto been used as a way to formulate the number of foreign employees an employer can hire. Now it would appear that the LQS will also be used, albeit in a roundabout fashion, as a means to ensure some form of minimum wage guarantee.

Instead of going about things in such a complicated fashion, why not just implement a minimum wage as mooted by the WP?

The Government has definitely sat up and taken note of the genuine fears faced by low wage workers in Singapore. There is also a very straightforward solution mooted by the WP which is set at $100 lower per month than what PM Lee is suggesting by using the LQS method. Is the Government coming up with a more convoluted way of dealing with the issue because it does not want to give the WP any credence or recognition?

 

 

 

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