Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lim Swee Say : Minimum wage has no place in Singapore....

Having a union chief that believes minimum wage has no place in Singapore says a lot about what kind of system we have in Singapore. Minimum wage policy wherever it is implemented, whether in Europe long time ago or Hong Kong more recently, has always generated plenty of debate. However, you will never find a labor union chief in any other country that will speak out against paying workers a minimum decent living wage. Lim Swee Say speaking against minimum wage just shows us how lopsided and unbalanced the system is ....even more so than the absence of a minimum wage itself. Lim Swee Say, as labor chief, also urge workers to be "cheaper, better, faster" at a time when Singapore has the highest income inequality among developed countries.

Lets get it clear, the debate on minimum wage in Singapore gained momentum because income gap has widened so much in the past decade and an significant underclass consisting of the bottom 20-30% of resident workforce has emerged. If the PAP govt had not pursued policies that caused the income gap to widen such as allowing the influx of cheap imported labor, regressive taxation policies and erosion of labor rights and benefits, the reasons for having minimum wage would be less compelling.

Lim Swee Say recycles old arguments against minimum wage. He says it will erode competitiveness by raising business costs and cause unemployment. Labor is only one component of costs - rent, utilities, govt charges etc. You never hear Lim Swee Say urging landlords to keep rentals low or reducing CEO pay or suggesting that electricity tariffs which is 2nd highest in the world should be reduced to keep Singapore competitive - he believes in making workers "cheaper" to stay competitive as part of his CBF (Cheaper, better faster) strategy. Higher wages will actually provide businesses with incentives to automate and increase productivity which has been falling forthe past few years. Minimum wage only causes unemployment in economies that are highly dependent on cheap labor. We should restructure our economy and move away these industries otherwise we will have workers locked in a 3rd world wage structure coping with a 1st world world cost of living.

If we believe a person working full time in Singapore should be paid decent wages , we have to make it happen with leadership that is determined to put in place the economic pre-conditions that make it possible. All developed countries other than Singapore have done it. Hong Kong has gone ahead and Malaysia is likely to implement it by next year. We, in Singapore, have a "cannot do" leadership that seeks to maintain the status quo because it best preserve its own interests and the interests of the large network of businesses to which it is linked. In such a system, inequalities can only expand....

-----------------------------
Minimum wage policy won't work: Employers, labour chief

By Kor Kian Beng

SINGAPORE'S labour chief and employers have come out strongly against the idea of a minimum wage and debunked recent claims it would be effective in helping the country's low-wage workers.

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Lim Swee Say and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) marshalled arguments to show that a minimum wage is hard to implement effectively and failure to do so would trigger negative effects on workers and bosses alike.

The nasty consequences include raising business costs, driving up joblessness, pushing up costs of living and eroding Singapore's competitive edge, while doing little to lessen income inequality.

Mr Lim, who leads 60 affiliated unions with more than 530,000 members, made it clear in an interview with The Straits Times last week that a minimum wage has no place in Singapore - now or in the near future, because 'it will not work'.

He said there was no way to get it right: If the wage was set too low, it would serve no purpose as low-wage workers would continue to earn little. If set too high, it would trigger higher unemployment as companies would cut demand for labour or their investments.

Based on Singapore's workforce of two million, every one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate would mean 20,000 low-wage workers losing their jobs, cautioned Mr Lim, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

He dismissed as well the idea of setting different minimum wages for each sector, depending on the type of work done by low-wage workers, as it would be hard to justify why workers in a certain sector should be paid a higher wage.

In response to media queries, the SNEF said a minimum wage would raise costs and force bosses to respond in ways 'none of which are beneficial'.

These include cutting headcount and trimming workers' benefits and training. Ultimately, a minimum wage would eat away at the competitiveness of the Singapore workforce, said the SNEF, which has 2,000 members employing more than 600,000 workers in total. It said: 'Jobs will be lost and fewer new jobs will be created as new businesses find the minimum wage an impediment and choose to start up elsewhere.' SNEF also cited research findings that showed a causal link between a minimum wage and negative effects on employment in countries like the United States. The robust response from the labour movement and the employers follows a debate on minimum wage last month. It began with opinion pieces by National University of Singapore economists Lim Chin and Hui Weng Tat - the former opposing, and the latter supporting the idea. This was shortly after Hong Kong, an economy often compared to Singapore, legislated a minimum wage in July, paving the way for its implementation by next year. A minimum wage sets a salary floor employers cannot breach. Its key aims are two-fold: Protect low-wage workers from potential exploitation and help them earn higher wages to cope with rising costs of living. In the latest debate, the idea of a minimum wage appeared to gain more support because of a widening income gap here. Official figures showed top managers earned four times more than cleaners and labourers at the bottom in 1998. It grew to 5.12 times in 2008. Lending support this time were Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh and Mr K. Kesavapany, director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Disagreeing, Mr Lim and SNEF believe the better way to help low-wage workers is to raise their skills through what Mr Lim calls a 'minimum skills' approach. Developed since the mid-1990s, this includes a training infrastructure with 46 centres islandwide, and a nationally recognised skills certification system. Over time, higher skills and productivity would lead to higher wages, instead of compelling employers to cough up the extra money through a minimum wage law, said Mr Lim. 'We believe the most effective wage ladder for low-wage workers is the skills ladder,' he said. Responding to Straits Times queries, the International Labour Organisation said a carefully articulated set of wide-ranging policies is needed to secure 'minimum income' for low-wage workers. It believes this holistic approach is 'at least implicitly reflected' in Singapore's recent policy measures. But this does not mean there is no need for a minimum wage here because it can help prevent abusive wage practices, it added.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

of course it won't work cos the govt doesn't want it to work. This is Singapore. If the govt wants it to work, of course the govt will put in place measures to give a min wage and ensure equity between employers, govt and eamployees.
Interesting to note that in many of the countries stated, they have a welfare state ON TOP of a min wage system. How to compare?

Anonymous said...

I think the govt is very confident that even with the skills upgrading system the govt is suggesting, these workers will still NOT get a salary that commiserate with a min level required for basic living. Thus they dare not propose a min wage level. Sad state. You can go for upgrading course, but you still cannot get a good salary, cos foreigners will be cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Minimum wage only works for the rlites who pay themselves MAXIMUM minimum wages.

Anonymous said...

*elites

http://vonhayek.blogspot.com/ said...

China already has minimum salary. Even slave shop like Foxconn workers are earning a minimum of SGD 400 after 3 month.

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/27191/20100607/foxconn-says-will-double-basic-wage-in-china-to-curb-suicides.htm

Even with that workers, in Foxconn are still committing suicide.

Our Ah Ma earn SGD600 as toilet cleaner. Factoring PPP, our Ah Ma has even lower purchasing power than folks in Foxconn, yet they are still going tough, no one committing suicide.

The best worker in the world Singaporean is simply there for PAP to suck dry and meanwhile, MSM like straits time neva cease to propagate Singaporean as lazy, daft, choosy and whatever wicked remark that came across the mind of those scumbag journalist.

Anonymous said...

They pay themselves out-of-this-world minimum wages while depriving Singaporeans of decent wages.

sgcynic said...

Over the past decade, our lower income wage-earners' wage levels stagnated. Why? Is the the training infrastructure effective in raising income levels? While in theory it makes sense that
"higher skills and productivity would lead to higher wages", is this true in our context of huge influx of low-wage, low-skilled foreign workers? Why has our productivity levels increased only half the pace of countries such as the US and Hong Kong? So do Lim Swee Say's theories hold in practice? Why not?

Clear eyed said...

I can understand employers opposing minimum wage implementation. But a 'labour union chief'? He's nothing but a wolf in sheep's clothing. We have to rid our system of all the wolves in white sheep's clothing preying on the citizens here before any justice is possible. And it has to start at the coming election.

Anonymous said...

Obviously having a minimum wage will mean low-income Singaporeans will compete and drive out the low wage foreign workers. Something that the government is not interested to do as every migrant worker coming into Singapore will drive the GDP up. They fill up seats in flights, provide more business for employment agencies, MOM, ICA, housing rentals and many many more. Low wage Singaporean workers die your business. This clown is very happy as "every month he gets to see his CPF Statements", whereas the poor workers with no internet access has to wait for their yearly CPF Statement. Anyway nothing much for them to see or gloat, because their CPF is worth little, and possibly may never realise any real cash even.

http://vonhayek.blogspot.com/ said...

Lim Swee Say is the only capitalist running dog in the world who runs trade union.

Elsewhere, he would have been booted out by angry union members. Singapore has no trade union, apart from SIA pilot's Alpha-S. Independent pilot trade union exist because there are too much Ang Moh pilots. And PAP neva really shake off their character as a colonial running dogs.

Even if we have trade union, it will not work under FT policy. Whenever we threaten strike, PAP can always bring in any number of FT the like, and sack the trouble makers.

In short, we are screwed.

Anonymous said...

Aiyoh...

This LSS only agreed minimum wage and above maximum wage is for him & those like him up there...

All the rest "don't" deserve it...

See the "logic" by chaps like this...even though their "salaries" are from singapore and its citizens/PRs...

Interesting no...

Who says Singapore does not practise "welfare"...Singapore "does" you know...look at LSS and those like him up there...welfare for them...no welfare for the poor nor the downtrodden...

How sick is this?

And your thinking on this...well...it is up to you to accept the "status quo"...

Sad.

Anonymous said...

How come he gets to see his CPF statement every month when he is under the pension scheme? Also, based on what LKY said about the retirement age, how can they justify getting pension at the age of 55?

i need workers said...

Thumbs up for Lim Swee Say!

But i am sorry to say, minimum wage or not. nobody want Singaporeans anyway. what i need is workers who work 12 hrs a day, 6 days straight with no mc, annual leave and family emergency.

SIngaporeans can collect soda cans for a living.

Anonymous said...

Minimum wage means increasing salary for a lot of foreigners as maids, cleaners, construction workers ...

Anonymous said...

He's a MP, isn't he? Why are people voting him in when he's not looking after Singaporeans????

Anonymous said...

I believe that most of the commentators here are not members of NTUC.

Most of them are executives or professional class.

So,we should take it easy,this is an issue that wrokers speak should speak their minds.

If they do not oppose their chief,who,in my persoanl opinion,is an topsy-turvy idiot,who are we to speak on thier behalf?

Lucky,I think you should drop this issue!

Persoanally I do think that min. wage is a double edge sword.

Jones said...

as long as the ruling party win general elections with massive mandates, they do as they please.

And that includes not implementing the minumum wage.

Anonymous said...

GINI -according to SNEF(12 Oct 2010)

Country Year GINI
1.Germany -2007-0.27
2.Denmark-2007-0.29
3.Australia-2006-0.31
4.France-2009-0.33
5.Taiwan-2006-0.34
6.Britain-2005-0.34
7.Switzerland-2009-0.34
8.Japan-2002-0.38
9.China-2007-0.42
10.USA-2007-0.45
11.Malaysia-2005-0.47
12.Singapore-2009-0.48
13.HK-2006-0.53

Anonymous said...

We need the Ultimate Worker.
One who works for free (or just enough), not complain, not fall sick, have no demands. This is absolutely necessary in the name of competitiveness. For the greater good!

If you noticed, those who have control over the supply of Land and Capital have never been told to stay competitive.

Anonymous said...

PAP and their incestuously tied cronies own and control too many businesses. These are the greedy ones who, in cahoots with PAP raise prices but when high costs finally hits them, they insisted on opening the floodgates to let in cheaper foreign workers so as to enhance their profits.

Having minimum wage laws is a major conflict to these cronies' profit interests.

Singaporean said...

Who voted for this feel-so-rich-deaf-frog-Zorro ?

What's his next role ?

Robbing Hood.

Anonymous said...

Zorro would have supported MW

DareToAct said...

Ties the Ministers' pay packages to the gini coefficient -- the higher the gini, the smaller the pay package. If gini is above, say 0.50, no pay. If gini below, say 0.30, extra bonus for the ministers.

Anonymous said...

By next year,our GINI is projected to go further than 50
HK is at >53,I guess the poor people fr HK exit PRC whilsty the rich people fr PRC exit HKK,an amicable soln

What kind hearted MM LKY of Singapore can do is to arrange the poors to exit JB,whilst all the rich and famous,his favourites fr all over the world exit Singapore,an amicable soln as well.

Anonymous said...

Since our GDP is growing ar record rate,highest in the world,what PM Lee should do is to be extremly generous with his Ang Pows next year after scoring victory in the next election,,how about S$20,000 per citizen,that would improve our GINI to a record low and make our citizens generally in happy mood.

With all citizens working so hard all these years and quietly accepted all his decisions,whether right or wrong,PAP/MM LKY himslef took all the credit fr all over the world for being a genuis,it is not too much for such a small gesture to our fellow citizens

Anonymous said...

Pros and Cons of minimum wage

Reform Party
www.thereformparty.net/.../71-reform-party-response-to-the-singapore-budget-2010

SDP
yoursdp.org/.../singapore/3911-hong-kong-to-introduce-minimum-wage-singapore



Lee Yi Shyan
http://momsingapore.blogspot.com/2010/09/of-minimum-wages-and-productivity.html

Tan kin lian
tankinlian.blogspot.com/2010/09/minimum-wage-in-singapore.html

chantc.blogspot.com/.../why-is-it-worth-looking-at-minimum-wage.html

http://newasiarepublic.com/?p=20547

http://theonlinecitizen.com/2010/09/mandatory-living-wage-no-more-cheap-excuses-please/

www.transitioning.org/.../can-minimum-wage-system-work-in-singapore

http://findmuck.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/reviewing-four-views-on-minimum-wage/


http://singaporedesk.blogspot.com/2010/09/oh-yes-virginia-there-is-minimum-wage.html

http://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/in-principle-workfare-is-better-than-minimum-wage/

http://piaroh.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/minimalism/

http://www.raviphilemon.net/2010/09/beyond-minimum-wage.html

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/09/28/singapore-minimum-wage-debate/

Anonymous said...

Minimum wage has no place in Singapore and that is because minimum wage cannot co-exist with a policy of importing cheap foreign workers. If that happens, the minimum wage will only go to benefit the foreign workers. For minimum wage to be work, cheap foreign labour must not be allowed.

Tan Kuan Han said...

I am inclined towards establishing a minimum wage standard, but only after careful deliberation and analysis of the possible consequences.

Also, the amount set is crucial too. Without a proper understanding of how it will affect our CPI, labour market and the economy as a whole, it should not be set too hastily.

With the liberal foreign employment policy, Singapore's labor market is becoming akin to a oligopsony,

where employers can source from a wider range of cheaper foreign alternatives for employees, hence reducing wage levels of the locals below the actual equilibrium wage in a closed labor market scenario.

A minimum wage can be introduced either by law or through collective bargaining to reduce such exploitation.

Anonymous said...

In Taiwan,About 1.2 million workers, including 170,000 foreign workers, are paid the minimum wage of NT$17,280 per month. However, minimum wage requirements do not apply to the 180,000 foreign workers who work as caregivers at their employers’ residence because this category of work is not included in the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).

Anonymous said...

Singapore is unique.

Where in the world, excluding those countries that do not have elections, can you find a country where there are 50% walkovers, 66% mandate and 98% seats at elections?

If you cannot find, then don't compare Singapore with other countries. Makes no sense whether in theory or practice.

Just like you don't compare apples with oranges, monkeys with tigers, bees with flies or crocodiles with snakes although they may belong to the same family of fruits, mammals, insects or reptiles respectively.

Anonymous said...

The Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) is the unicameral parliament of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly known as North Korea. It consists of one deputy from each of 687 constituencies, elected to five-year terms.

North Korea is a single-party state; all candidates for the Supreme People's Assembly are picked by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland under Kim Jong-il. The body in turn is dominated by the Workers' Party of Korea.


In Iraq,late Saddam used to win 100% of the votes,except only 1 vote which was supposed to be casted by himself to prove his impartially.

This 7Nov 2010,coming multi-parties general election in Myanmar,USDP,whioch is aligned to the army,is expected to win at least 95% of the votes.Most of the murderous ex-generals running USDP are the good friends of SM,Mr GCT,during the old time when Burma socialist program party was in-charge of the government.

Is there an election in Cuba?

Anonymous said...

I hope the people, especially those who are suffering and losing the jobs to cheap foriegn labour, never forget that LKY has betrayed the very workers whom he pretended to fight for in the early days. We have come a full circle now. The owrkers are again voiceless against their masters, only difference is that its not the colonila master but the emperor and his generals

Anonymous said...

The same old argument from LSS against min. wage. If it is not workable, has his alternative polices such as workfare to improve the lives of the low wage workers worked? If yes, why has the income gap widen further?

Anonymous said...

Can one smart A level economic student challenge this idiot for a debate on minimum wage. He is not up to challenge the likes of chee or Kenneth. You need to be dumb asshole to be paid millions to see your monthly Cpf statement, which no one else receives to be a PAP minister.
BTW stick up on eggs. Mah bow tan visited the egg farm so prices will go up, he will cut the egg supply and blame the chickens

Anonymous said...

Singapore system is such that with high pay, ministers, MP are worried losing their seats in Election, therefore they will always help their people to appeal for their fines and wrong doing with those relevant authorities. These have made it difficult for the public servant to enforce whatever regulations passed in parliament. After a long time you will see no matter how good an idea or policy has been brought up, the result is half fuck. If we really want to change the party, we need to change those bo lang par public servant too.

TokyoSingaporean said...

Hey Lucky,

Is there minimum wage in Japan? Not that I know of.

Lucky Tan said...

anon 00:03,

Yes, there is but it depends on the region and industry. The lowest minimum wage per day in Japan is US$47.

Other than minimum wage, Japanese workers have universal healthcare and unemployment insurance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage_law#Japan

Anonymous said...

Is there a minimum wage for Japanese prostitutes?

Daniel @ Gold Trading said...

It's really sad for Singaporeans. Employees are always working hard and always OT-ing but the pay doesn't really reflect their efforts.

Who over here thinks that they always need to OT and are underpaid? :)

Daniel
Dan @ Facebook

Wall Stickers said...

Well, this is a policy to reconsider, given the current economic climate...

look4kc said...

We need to know the agenda, don't write a composition without knowing the title.

If minimum wages is not possible here then maximum wages should suffix else it drives up inflation.

Say maximum pay of not more than 500,000 per annum for any Singaporean.

Anonymous said...

anon 1:26

there is no minimum wage or limit to how much Jap pros earns because their yakuza bosses keep their charges under them through skill upgrading program and renewal process.

the sushi is always fresh there.

Anonymous said...

what's so difficult to understand lim swee say here?

he is happy with status quo, especially around month end when he reads his cpf statement.

if you're not happy with your current situation, there is only one thing LEGAL to do. Vote RP, Vote WP, Vote SDP, Vote SDA. just dont vote for the group of people who live in good-class bungalows guarded by gurkhas because of your tax contributions.

Anonymous said...

Now I am hungry for sushi. Can't wait for lunch.

Anonymous said...

it's difficult for a man to understand something if his livelihood depends on his not understanding it.

Anonymous said...

No,Minister Lim is not bother at all to understand,what he has been doing with all his PAP high IQ collegues all these years is to forecast,to predict what would happen and act in advance,they claim that to be their only legitimate reason to be in charge and earn around S$8,000 a day.

The results so far since 1959 has been mixed,in the earlier years it was better with MM's fellow comrades,it has been going down hill since the last old guard left PAP cabinet.

At the same time,PAP stepped up the activities at Toa Payoh,so called brothel by many forummers,coined by late David Marshall.

So this round,Mr Lim's high I.Q. conclusion is that many factories to close if Singapore has Minimum Wage.

Is this true?I have muy doubt,and personally do not believe that Ah Beng Lim is good in his fortune telling!He lacks a good track record.

Anonymous said...

Went to a Sinchong medical and find that the same medicine has increased by 10% since my last purchase about 6 months ago.

So how to be cheaper while prices of many items keep on increasing at higher than inflation.

TokyoSingaporean said...

Lucky,

I don't think they have a universal healtcare in Japan. They have health insurance card that allows you to get cheaper drugs and it's often used as a means of identification by the japanese since they do not have i/cs.

Frankly, I don't buy everything that i see on wiki. One such example would be the salary of teachers in japan. It quotes about 100 000 yen more and that is simply not true as it uses salaries of teachers in private schools.

So, sometimes I would go for Mercer's or some global surveys done on Japan and take the japanese statistical yearbook with a pinch of salt.

Cheers! And good job!

Anonymous said...

You don't need healthcare in Japan because the massage parlors there can keep you very healthy and strong.

Anonymous said...

LSS can said that because singaporean put him there.
Remember you vote him and other nonsense MPs in.

Anonymous said...

There is not enough people to meet the number of jobs created. What is Lim talking about. There is no need to worry about unemployment. If any we should raise wages to make people more efficient and reduce reliance on foreign workers.

Anonymous said...

Singapore does not have enough people to meet the number of jobs created. So Lim saying that it would create unemployment doesn't make sense. If any raising wages will force employers to be more efficient and reduce our dependence on foreign workers.

Cheapwowgold said...

For this reason players have a tendency to be tempted to get Gold WOW through safe web internet sites. Unless you will be an achieved player, accumulating the Gold for WOW you will need could possibly be a frustrating procedure.

rinosuke said...

why dont we pay the politicians minimum wage as per ntuc standard see how fast they start changing things around here

Max Riley Chia said...

Singapore does have minimum wage in the form of progressive wage. You can check this article out to read more on minimum wage singapore and why we cannot have it:
http://goo.gl/c7ljfl