PAP and non-PAP voters: cost of living and jobs are two biggest concerns in GE2020

Cost of living (COL) and jobs were listed as the top issues for voters in the recent General Election. The findings were published by Blackbox Research on Thursday (16 Jul) where a total sample size of 1507 were surveyed in two polls during the campaign period: 1 -2 July and 7-8 July.  All respondents were … Read more

Tripartite panel contradicts Government on employment practices?

I refer to the article, “Bosses hiring foreigners over S’poreans? Not true”.  (Straits Times, 8 April). It states that: “More Singaporeans are complaining that employers prefer to hire foreigners over them. But investigations by a tripartite panel that looks at work discrimination issues found that the accusations were invariably unfounded. The alliance does not keep track … Read more

After economy recovers, 10 workers should do the work of 11 or 12 – Lim Swee Say

From the Straits Times:

THE productivity of workers in Singapore is declining and labour chief Lim Swee Say has a suggestion on how companies can help turn it around. It is by doing more to develop new markets for their products.

He made the call to companies on Friday in response to feedback from many of them that measures like the Jobs Credit wage subsidy scheme are to be blamed.

Such government aid has resulted in these companies holding on to more workers than they need. They had noted that when 10 workers are retained to do the job of eight or nine workers, short-term productivity suffers.

Mr Lim, however, felt that the Government was doing the right thing by introducing help measures to save jobs.

To get around the short-term impact on labour productivity, which is a measure of the output per worker, he urged companies to ‘find ways to prepare these 10 workers, so that by the time the upturn comes, (they) can produce the output of 11 to 12 workers’.

Read more

Tighten labour laws to protect older, vulnerable workers

Gilbert Goh

I refer to the article “CDC sets up new taskforce” (Today 20 July).

I applaud the Central Singapore CDC on setting up a taskforce to tackle the growing unemployment situation targeting those belonging to the 40s age group. We must be the only first world country in the world that has strong hiring prejudice against older unemployed workers. Their decades of working experience and wisdom seem to be unrecognised.

This is also one of the main reasons why many educated capable Singaporeans in their 40s choose to emigrate to other countries that have fairer hiring practices.

Strangely, many friends aged above 40 years old, having gone through various retraining programmes initiated by the CDC/WDA, also face difficulty finding work. It is rather plain that retraining may not be the answer to a growing chronic problem among the unemployed.  There may be other issues at work here.

Read more

Flip-flop on government’s position?


I read with relative interest today of Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong’s comments that was reported in the Straits Times (Job market on students’ minds[1], 16th July 2009).

The minister was reported to have said  that ‘jobs could still be lost in the coming months’ and that ‘initiatives, like the Jobs Credit scheme, are fairly new and their impact not yet clear, “if necessary we will introduce new programmes”.

This seems to be an uncharacteristic shift away from the constant beating of the drums that the Jobs Credit Scheme (JBS) is the way forward and a huge success – the most recent example of this ‘orchestration’ being the CNA report on 14th July 2009 (CDCs see fewer people asking for employment, social assistance[2]), where a huge leap of judgement equated the drop in numbers of people seeking job assistance at CDCs around the island to ‘companies benefiting from various government programmes such as SPUR and the Jobs Credit Scheme’.

Read more

Job satisfaction – inadequate measures to protect workers

Tan Kin Lian / Columnist

A Business Times report carried a survey made by a private research firm. It showed the job satisfaction rate of Singapore workers to be the second lowest in the world (the worst is Japan).

Although the survey is made among workers in the finance industry, I believe that it does reflect the views of workers in general. I carried out a survey in my blog to find out more. (See here)

My survey

I asked the question, does the findings in the Business Times report reflect the actual situation in Singapore?

43.6% said that the actual situation in Singapore is worse than reported, while 5.5% said that it is quite satisfactory (i.e. better than reported). 38.2% said that the report reflects the actual situation correctly.

Read more

An alternative to penalising labour

Donaldson Tan / Head, TOC International / London

The website of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) is a good indicator of the state of our economy. It not only publishes quarterly economic statistics, but also lists the economic milestones our country has achieved. Since 2003, the economic milestones section has not been updated. Upon further scrutiny, one would find there is no mention of success of any government scheme to support local SMEs since 1960 in the economic milestones section.

Furthermore, the gloomy GDP figures add on to the worry. Last month, Goldman Sachs lowered its forecast for Singapore’s GDP for 2009 from –4.0% to –8.0%. On Tuesday (14 March 2009), MTI revealed that Singapore’s GDP for Q1 2009 has contracted by 19.7% compared to the previous quarter, which is worse than the 16.4% contraction in Q4 2008. The revised MTI forecast for 2009 Economic Growth is –9.0% to –6.0%. Until the low cost centres in Asia start to pick up, it is unlikely that the higher cost centres such as Singapore would show any sign of economic recovery.

Read more

5 Minutes With… Leong Sze Hian on pay rise survey

On Tuesday, Channelnewsasia reported a survey conducted by London-based research ECA. The survey found that Singapore is placed 43rd out of 53 countries in terms of pay rise ranking for 2009. TOC spends five minutes with financial and statistical expert, Mr Leong Sze Hian, and asks him about the survey’s results and what it means for Singapore.

Question: CNA says: “Employees in Singapore will see some of the lowest pay rises this year compared to their counterparts in other places.” Out of 53 countries surveyed, Singapore is in the bottom 10 – at number 43. Why is this so?

Our open labour and “GDP growth focus” economic policies may have contributed to this. Also, we may have overdone the call to cut wages, have shorter work weeks, compulsory leave, retrain at lower wages, etc, to save jobs – leading to perhaps even companies that may not have contemplated doing so, under similar circumstances in past downturns, to in a sense follow the herd and trend.

Question: CNA says the pay rise for Singapore will only be 2%. How many workers in Singapore will actually see this rise? Or will most Singaporeans not see any rise at all?

As I understand that the 2% pay rise may be on average wages, as has been the case typically in the past, the median wage and more so the wages of the lower-income may not rise as much as average wage rise (2%), or even decline.  In real terms, after adjusting for inflation, the number without or negative pay rise may be more.

Read more