"Speaking at a tripartism forum on Monday, Minister of State for Manpower, Tan
Chuan-Jin, stressed that discriminatory practices have no place in
Singapore." - CNA Report "Discriminatory practices have no place in S'pore: Tan Chuan-Jin"[Link]
So after telling us that foreigners create jobs for Singaporeans for the longest time, isn't it a big turnaround for the govt to now start talking about discrimination against Singaporeans? There are numerous reasons why employers hire foreigners including the reasons cited by a writer to the Straits Times (see below). Foreigners from developing countries have their families back home are willing to accept a lower pay compared with a financially stressed Singaporean breadwinner - after you hire him, you find that you're under pressure to increase his pay because you know his cost of living is high and escalating every year. For a foreigner, he is paid so much more than back home, you don't have worry about him being unhappy with pay...if he is not happy you simply send him home without burdening your conscience too much. Foreigners coming from poor developing countries are willing to accept all sorts of working conditions and lack of benefits that workers in a 1st world country find ridiculous. American employers like to hire Mexicans, the French employers like workers from poorer European neighbors like Portugal. ....our employers like to hire from Philippines, India and China.
It is a futile for the govt to talk about discrimination after opening the floodgates for foreign workers from developing countries. Tan Chuan-Jin's idea of warning employers not to advertise just for PR and Work Permit holders and to include Singaporeans is a superficial move that will not solve the problem. Employers will just get applications from everyone, select foreigners and toss the resumes of Singaporeans into the waste paper basket. The people who suffer the most due the govt's policy are the older workers who cannot find employment because employers have access to a large pool of young foreign workers. The main reason for employers to hire older workers in the past was a tight labor market when they had no choice but to tap the pool of older workers. By opening the floodgates, the PAP govt created a severe structural unemployment problem and many Singaporeans live with this fear of becoming a unemployed PMET or take deep pay cuts to stay employed when they are older.
I do not expect the situation to improve much soon. A few small changes to restrict the hiring of foreigners implemented by the govt early this year saw much resistance and complaints from employers. Many of them have over time become very dependent on foreign workers. The govt took the short cut to GDP growth by pandering to business demand for cheap foreign labor instead of investing to improve productivity and innovating to move up the value chain . We have walked too far down this road and it is now very difficult to turn back quickly. The high social costs makes this model of growth unsustainable and the price has been paid for mostly by ordinary Singaporeans who have to struggle harder to support their families.
Employers want foreigners to avoid paying salary increment and CPF [Link]
It is very common for employers to recruit foreigners on a work permit or S-Pass for two years and at the end of the validity period, send them home and recruit a fresh batch of foreigners for the same tasks ('Don't discriminate against Singaporeans'; Tuesday).
By doing so, employers do not have to contribute to the Central Provident Fund for the employees, pay a yearly increment or bonus, plan a career path or provide employment benefits.
It is not surprising that Singaporeans are often passed over for such positions. Some employers even promise the foreign worker the maximum salary as indicated by the respective types of employment pass; and once the worker arrives here, he is told that a certain portion of the salary (in the form of a certain allowance and not part of the basic pay) will have to be returned in cash to the employer every month (to avoid leaving any evidence for subsequent investigations if a complaint is lodged).
The foreign worker has no choice but to accept the deal or be sent home. Although the levy and minimum salaries for the various employment passes have been raised, it is still cheaper to recruit foreigners than Singaporeans, and employers will continue to utilise the maximum quota of foreign workers allotted to them.
The average Singaporean worker is pickier about employment because he has more arduous responsibilities. The well-being of his family is at stake, compared with a foreign worker who is usually here alone earning a salary that will let his family back home live far more comfortably.
It is easy for employers to excuse themselves from recruiting Singaporeans by generalising that Singaporeans are not willing to take on low-level jobs.
But as long as employers continue to practice the 'cheaper' option, there is no way a Singaporean worker can compete with a foreigner. It is true that businesses exist to make money, and very few can survive on national pride alone (by recruiting citizens only). However, the Government has a duty to ensure there is fair play in the workplace for Singaporeans, and clearly, we need more bite in the current employment policies to ensure employers do not take advantage of such policies to disadvantage the Singaporean worker.