UPDATE: I would like to thank everyone for commenting on this posting. Many cited examples of when people would be paid more for the same work because they have experience or better qualification. When you apply a principle, you stick to it as strongly as possible and every exception you make you need to think hard about the justification. You starting point is "equal pay for equal work" ...now suppose you decide a driver should be paid more because of his years of good service with the company - it is perhaps a justifiable exception as it is attainable by other drivers. Suppose the ability to speak English is important and it was argued that PRC drivers are generally not good at English so they were paid lower- you ought to be able to transparently state that drivers who have "English qualifications" are paid extra. This, however, was not the case. The drivers were discriminated against purely based on nationality.
You notice in the experiment, they researcher explicitly stated that the 2 monkeys knew each other - the angry monkey couldn't find any acceptable justification for his "unfair treatment". ...that was the source of the problem.
Suppose a company pay the men more than the women for identical jobs is it acceptable? In the 2012 US Presidential Election, in addition to selecting the president, one of the bills that Americans voted for was a legislation that ensure women get paid the same as men for the same work. In Singapore, some companies (Stat Boards, Govt entities) make an exception by paying Singaporean men a few hundred more for serving NS and I don't hear complaints from women about this because the men lose 2 years of income serving their NS and the 'extra' is does not come close to compensating for their sacrifice. However, if women found out that men who don't serve NS (foreigners) are paid more because of race (ang moh?) and gender they will surely take issue with it. So it is important to start with the basic principle and the burden of proof and justification fall on those who cannot follow this.
Coincidently, Minister Lim Swee Say spoke about "equal pay for same job" yesterday.
[No to Equal Pay for all Nationalities] - he believes that we should discriminate people based on nationalities:
"Whereas for foreign workers, a bulk of their income is actually sent back to
their home countries to support their families and of course, the cost of living
in their home countries is very different from that in
"Therefore, the labour movement, the unions have expressed a
lot of concern. We are highly uncomfortable with this idea of same job, equal
pay, because we feel that this will disadvantage our local workers and their
Singaporeans need to earn more to support their families than someone from India or China - his family back in home needs less money to survive. On the surface it looks like it make sense. However, think hard about this. This situation does not favour Singaporeans at all. Foreign workers coming here to take up jobs at lower pay for the same job (same work) means that employers are less willing to pay more for Singapore workers. This causes downward pressure on Singaporeans' wages and indeed wages have stagnated for many Singaporean workers because these imported workers have lower cost of supporting their families are competing against them. As the minister and head of our national union, he did not safeguard the interests of Singaporean workers ...and continues to encourage employers to exploit foreign import by paying them lower - it makes no economic sense for businesses to hire Singaporeans to do the same job for higher pay when they can hire a foreigner and pay him lower.
One of the arguments used by Singaporeans who opposed the strike was the PRC drivers signed a contract stipulating their remuneration so they should just accept whatever pay they signed up for even if others are paid a lot higher doing exactly the same job.
The PRC drivers were not just shortchanged by discriminatory practices alone. They found themselves at the losing end of changes in work week as well as poor living conditions - it is always easier for people to tell others to accept and live with life's injustices so long as they aren't the ones at the losing end. So if you find the your-co worker who sits next to you getting paid double what you're paid for doing the same job because the boss and him were in the same ruby team years ago...how will you feel?
I would like to thank a reader for posting the link to the following video:
There is something immoral about luring foreign workers to Singapore with the intention of discriminating against them and taking advantage of their ignorance of local market rates for labor in order to pay them lower for the same work. Even animals with much smaller brains than humans realise there is something very wrong with high inequality.....but why do the PAP leaders keep telling us it is acceptable. You know why? See the monkey in the right cage...the one getting happilly the grapes (not peanuts) ..he is not protesting.