Saturday, August 02, 2008

Lim Swee Say : The man and his Logic.....

Minister Lim Swee Say is the Secretary General of the NTUC. As the leader of the Singapore's sole national trade union one would expect him to put the interests of Singapore workers above everything else. You seldom see Lim Swee Say without a smile on his face. He looks like a person people would find difficult to not to like. That is probably why he was chosen for the job of Secretary General of the NTUC.

While union leaders in other countries are always asking for the best wages possible for their workers, the role of union leaders in Singapore is very different. They moderate wage demands during good times, persuade workers to make sacrifices during bad times. With bad times around the corner, Lim Swee Say will be very busy in the coming months explaining why workers have to make sacrifices.

Recently Minister Lim has been on the news persuading workers not to ask for higher wages as it will worsen inflation. His logic : Higher wages =>inflation. This is very interesting. As our state own monopolies, many of which are still wildly profitable, move ahead with price hikes, not a single minister has stood up to condemn these hike as inflationary and unnecessary. We are told that these hikes are necessary because costs has gone up and service quality will fall if we don't accept them. But when the low income workers whose real wages has fallen below what is sufficient for basic living ask for a hike, Lim Swee Say springs into action to explain the economic theory of the "wage-inflation" spiral. However given that our inflation is due to food and energy which are largely imported or cause by govt monopolies raising prices, how will wage hikes for ordinary workers cause prices to spiral up? Will the rise in the wages of a cleaner cause oil prices to rise and spiral up?

"How come raising ministers and top civil servants' pay does not cause inflation but raising the pay of ordinary workers does?" - Lucky Tan.

In the coming months, our leaders will ask us to tighten our belts as the economy slows. This is for our own good because our wages will remain stagnant as various state own enterprises raise their prices to maintain their it is best for us to be prepared for these increases. When we get out of the coming slowdown, we have to remember that it is good leadership that took us out of it and not a recovery of the US economy.
NTUC chief concerned global economy heading towards stagflation
Channel NewsAsia - Saturday, August 2

SINGAPORE: Labour chief Lim Swee Say has urged workers to work together to cope with a global economy which may be heading towards a state of stagflation — one sparked off by low growth and high inflation.

The NTUC secretary general made the call in his National Day message.

Singapore’s National Day is being celebrated amidst concerns about the slowing global economy and rising inflation, said Mr Lim.

And to tackle these concerns, the labour movement, the employers and the government are addressing two core priorities.

First, coping with the impact of inflation without being caught in a price—wage spiral.

"The worse thing that any country does at a time of high inflation would be for the unions and workers to push for wage inflation. Wage inflation is different from wage increment. Wage inflation means you are pushing up wages to fully offset the inflation," said the labour chief.

He added that companies in the unionised sector are currently in talks on their annual increment.

One key consideration that is being taken into account in these negotiations is the current state of inflation.

The labour movement noted that private sector companies in the unionised sector have been giving a higher percentage of built—in wage increases in the first half of this year compared to last year, with the figure in the range of 4.4 per cent against 3.8 percent in 2007.

— CNA/ir


celyra said...

"How come raising ministers and top civil servants' pay does not cause inflation but raising the pay of ordinary workers does?" - Lucky Tan.

Hi Lucky Tan,
Exactly the same thoughts here.
If the ministers are not making a sacrifice, I'm not sure if we should be.
Can Lim try to persuade our ministers first before convincing us???

in shock said...

hmm have actually come to a stage whereby i just feel speechlessly heartache.

recent news presented by our leaders have been very shocking.

Anonymous said...

hey, the minister increase pay to keep up with the market rate, is that wage inflation?

It is, you bloody Singaporean fools who voted for PAP!!

Anonymous said...

I just wonder what is the point of joining the union when job security is practically zero. In the past it will probably be worthwhile because upon retrenchment you are assured of a lump sum compensation, but nowadays many people are working based on year to year contracts with no long term commitments on the part of the employers.

And if joining a union is not to fight for better wages and benefits, I wonder what people are joining for?

Anonymous said...

Look what I found...

tew nia seng said...

Lim swee say only cares for his rice bowl.He don't care about workers welfare, just like Lim Boon Heng,both are running dogs of Pap.If they are union chief in Malaysia, long long time kena whack liao.What he does in PM office ?? Nia mah!!!

Anonymous said...

Lim !!! come here !! bend down !!! make me happy and yr career will fly.

Anonymous said...

Ask him not to fart around as it is smelly n caused polution.

Kin said...

And still singaporeans celebrate NDP.

Anonymous said...

If i am correct,a lot of analysts are already commenting that we are at an age where productivity has reached the highest level it can go.
As a developed nation, why is our govt not able to make us like other developed nations,i.e first world wages?

Why are we always remined of the Indians and Chinese?
Aren't we supp to compete with other developed nations?

I think Swee Say better read the latest busienss magazines,journals.

Its now 2008....not 1988.


Onlooker said...

He want to go the way of
Tar man what so that if there is a freak by election in the Jurong GRC.They will be united lor. lol
But you see Tranposrt fares can be increased but just not our salary lor.
Can have more ERP but not our salary.
Have Midyear Bonus $$$$ for CIVIL Servant but not our Salary.
All this after Not doing their job(MSK), Importing crime(crime rate still low compared to whatever where ever countries) and Not caring about the FUNDs that are in Merril lynch, UBS and Citigroup.
Where else can you find such "Talented" people.
Uniquely Singapore, no?

Anonymous said...

The old wise saying is still very appropriate.

NTUC = Never Trust Union Chief.

It was true in 1988 and is still true in 2008! Only the hairstyle changes.

Anonymous said...

as a singaporean who has spent the past 3 years studying in the US, it breaks my heart to see my country being managed in this way. many of my singaporean friends in the US feel the same way... maybe that's why overseas voting wasn't allowed in the last general elections.

kudos to lucky tan for writing these posts with his acerbic, pithy insights. it allows people like me to keep in touch with what's really happening back home.

Anonymous said...

I say let's all vote with our feet....after all this is exactly what our forefathers did.

They are "quitters" from
China, India and other parts of the world and they did manage to make a better living after getting out of their countries. So shouldn't we take a leaf out of this tried and proven method and migrate to Australia, US and Canada?

To prove that I practice what I preach, I have applied for Aussie PR and hopefully will be going over at the end of this year.

All the best for those who are staying.

Lucki Man said...

I am sadden to hear that workers have to sacrifice in the end. Not a good news on this National Day 2008.

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