May Day is an international event bringing together workers in solidarity - a day to express that a just and better world is possible. But this May Day, our Singapore employment is in dire straits. Economic indicators are negative while job insecurity and unemployment are serious probems.
"Give workers and their families back their right to a decent living"
May Day is an international event bringing together workers in solidarity - a day to express that a just and better world is possible. But this May Day, our Singapore employment is in dire straits. Economic indicators are negative while job insecurity and unemployment are serious probems. Wages are going down and purchasing power is lower even as they toil longer hours. It is worse for women as they are paid lower then male counterparts on the same job. The plight is much worse for migrant domestic workers many are increasingly abused and paid miserly.
Think Centre makes the following 6-point recommendations to the Singapore government, employers, trade unions and all workers:
1. Think Centre calls Singaporeans to uphold the principles of treating each other with respect and dignity, and to contribute constructively to the communities in need, especially the new poor, unemployed and SARS victim and their families.
2. Think Centre urges to stop all forms of discrimination towards all workers especially, migrant domestic workers, health care workers, women workers, and migrant workers who are fearlessly working alongside singaporean workers.
3. As in the case for all Singaporean workers, Think Centre asks for migrant workers, especailly the domestic workers, to be granted rights to a fair and decent wage, annual leave, holiday, social security, and recognition of their human dignity.
4. The Government of Singapore should continue to do more to provide economic relief to victims and families of the unemployed. SARS victims and their families shoud be paid a reasonable amount of compensation. Residents who are enable to pay their utility bills for water and electricity should be assisted and not punished as water and electricity are basic means for a decent living. The government should ensure residents have access to the basic needs of decent living.
5. Singapore should adopt pro-needy policies to secure decent work in conditions of freedom, security and human dignity. The government should provide more support for the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises and their coverage by a social security system, as well as continue to focus on education, skill training and health-care to improve the ability of workers to be employable.
6. Think Centre recommends the governemnt to update its labour legislation in:
6.1. Introducing a 40-hour work week and a minimum wage policy;
6.2. Strengthening the labour law to protect against discrimination of older workers, gender, race and religion, physical disabilities and foreign domestic workers;
6.3. Supporting retrenched and unemployed workers through a national insurance scheme for a reasonable living that will provide them access to housing, healthcare, retraining and other essentials for a decent human life;
6.4. Removing/Improving policies that are unjust, unfair and discriminative to workers such as :
6.4.1. overtime work as requested by employees so companies need not pay double for work on rest days;
6.4.2. salaries from overtime work being deducted for food and housing;
6.4.3. employees working 11 hours (shift work) daily for 30 days are allowed only 1 rest day per month for the first year in service industry;
6.4.4. foreign workers refusing to sign their terms of contract have to pay their own return tickets home and the company liquidated damages of around S$1,000;
6.4.5. prior permission for work permit holders to marry locals. Instead those with relevant skills and who have worked in Singapore for 4 years should be free to marry locals;
6.4.6. limitations on the power of the Registrar of Trade Unions to refuse or cancel registration, which could be used to obstruct the establishment of a trade union or impose a single union structure.
30 April 2003