HE unionist answered with a smile when the Prime Minister asked if this year's bonus had been a good one.
"Six months?" Mr Lee Hsien Loong hazarded. The happy worker replied: "Seven."
More than one happy Singaporean unionist had recounted similar stories of an unexpected windfall come bonus time when they met Mr Lee at last week's May Day Rally.
"So, when people say the economy is moving but a lot have been left behind, I think it's not a full picture," said Mr Lee yesterday, talking to the media as he wrapped up his six-day official visit to the United States.
Isn't it great a PM who forms his opinion meeting happy unionists belonging to a govt controlled union who received 7 months of bonus. From that, he concluded that not many are left behind.
In the past when the economy booms the labor market would tighten up and wages of all workers would go up. These days with the floodgates open to foreign imported labor, I guess employers have alot more options. Given that corporate profits are at an all time high as a % of GDP and cost of living has risen....what happens to our low income earners...what is like for them in this current boom.
I bring to you this story from http://willythecop.blogspot.com/ about her mom who received a set of brand new terms for her employment. What do elderly cleaners who work 5.5 days a week and not allowed medical leave ...get these days? $500 a month! This is what President SR Nathan gets in 20 minutes! Of course President Nathan is doing this important job of safeguarding our reserves, he must be busy counting our reserves, I haven't seen much of him lately.
What would a worker do if something like that happens? Complain to the MOM and get risk getting fired? Many simply swallow such terms. There is no choice, the employer can get Bangla workers to replace them if they express unhappiness.
Singapore is so lucky to have a big group of elderly low income workers without independent unions and easily replaced by foreign workers. This makes our business super-competitive and we have been ranked No. 2 according to today's Straits Times. USA is ranked number 1 and Hong Kong Number 3. Our lack of creativity + innovation and high cost of rental+utilities can be overcome by highly competitive wages. It is so competitive some workers probably live on 2 meals a day to make ends meet....thanks to them we are No. 2 this year....and if they can live on 1.5 meals a day, I think we can make No. 1 next year.
My mom is working at the Tuas South Incineration Plant as a cleaner under the contract of a private cleaning company. The company pays her S$700 a month for a 5-days work week. The pay is not high, but at least reasonable. Now, the cleaning contract has ended for this cleaning company and the contract has been given to another new cleaning company. And so my mom's new boss had a meet-the-people session to tell the cleaners his rules:
1. The pay is reduced to S$500
2. Now it has to be a 5.5 days working week
3. There will be a cut in manpower as there should not be more than 3 people working at an area, regardless how large the area space
4. No annual leave and sick leave for the first year
And there was where my mom and all other old uncles and aunties got a shock... NO ANNUAL LEAVE AND SICK LEAVE FOR THE FIRST YEAR?!? Hello? These are not hyperactive teenagers we're talking about! This new boss is expecting all his 50-60 years old cleaners not to fall sick for one year? How realistic is this?!? And so what if they DO fall sick? Pay cut! Not a difficult guess right?
I'm wondering, how did the National Environment Agency (NEA) chooses their cleaning company to contract out to? Why is there such an obvious cost reduction effort from this new cleaning company? Is it because NEA is not paying them enough?And is the boss allowed to take away annual and sick leaves for his workers? Is the Ministery of Manpower (MOM) allowing this? If that is true, who is there to protect these old cleaning workers?So much for a good retirement in Singapore... WTF