Food service workers in Singapore will receive a three-year sustained pay hike under the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), according to an article published by The Online Citizen on 15 February.

The PWM is a policy introduced by the Singapore government to uplift the wages of low-wage workers of specific industries and improve their job prospects — in place of across the board minimum wage model.

Starting on 1 March, the minimum gross wages of quick-service workers will be raised to S$1,750, while full-service workers will earn at least $1,850 monthly.

The baseline gross wages of both quick-service and full-service workers will be increased by a fixed amount of S$165 annually from 1 March 2024, and again from 1 March 2025. This move will benefit an estimated 41,000 food service workers in the country.

To provide some context, the median gross wage of waiters in Singapore was S$1,400 in June 2021, according to data from the Ministry of Manpower.

The median gross wage of service and sales workers in June 2001 was S$1,508. The data suggest that the wages of these workers may have decreased by about 7.2 per cent in the last 21 years.

However, since inflation was about 35.5 per cent during the same period, the real decrease was only about a negative -1.8 per cent per annum from June 2001 to June 2021.

But even with the increase of the minimum gross wage to S$1,750 from 1 March 2023, the increase is about 16.0 per cent in the last 21 years.

Since inflation was about 47.9 per cent from June 2001 to December 2022, the real decrease after the implementation of the PWM from 1 March 2023 will be about a negative -1.2 per cent per annum in the 21 years or so.

The implementation of the PWM is a positive step towards uplifting the wages of low-wage workers in Singapore. However, further efforts may be required to bridge the gap between the minimum wage and the median wage and ensure a fair and just wage for all workers in the country.

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