The days of heady economic growth has ended abruptly with unemployment already reaching 4.8% and could be expected to rise further. Most workers feel helpless, insecure, distress, and suffer in silence, as they maybe the next one to be fired and join the burgeoning ranks of the unemployed.
1st May 2009
The origin of Labour Day is traced back to the 1880s struggle for eight-hour work-day. In Singapore today, unfortunately, many workers still have no choice but to work twelve-hour shifts. They have to work long hours in order to secure their jobs and increase their take home pay. Most workers feel helpless, insecure, distress, and suffer in silence, as they maybe the next one to be fired and join the burgeoning ranks of the unemployed.
The days of heady economic growth has ended abruptly with unemployment already reaching 4.8% and could be expected to rise further. As we are going though this economic rough patch where jobs, livelihood and the welfare of all workers are threatened, and growing proportions of vulnerable migrant workers are facing the grim prospects of losing their jobs and returning home to debts.
Think Centre stands behind the Singapore government in its recent slate of policy drives to salvage jobs and save the livelihood of fellow Singaporeans, PRs and migrant workers. This is indeed the time for our first-world government to walk its talk of fostering a cohesive and resilient society.
Without a minimum wage our aged and lower educated workers are unable to compete fairly with the migrant workers nor gain a job with decent working conditions. Instead many workers both local and foreign suffer from low wages, poor working and living conditions.
Many workers have very little bargaining power and many still do not have access to union representation to deal with unreasonable employers. They dare not make reports to the Ministry of Manpower or the Central Provident Fund Board about their poor working conditions and non-contribution of CPF by errant employers. They suffer silently the consequences of depressed wages, unreasonable hours, poor bargaining power or risk becoming unemployed.
To re-balance the tilt of bargaining power back to our workers, Think Centre urges the government to update deficient labour legislation by amending or removing outdated policies. Think Centre calls on the government to:
1. Introduce a new 40-hour work week and a minimum wage policy;
2. Institute better labour and anti-discrimination laws to protect workers from discrimination resulting from age, gender, race and religion, disabilities and nationality;
3. Provide greater support for retrenched and unemployed workers through a national insurance scheme, as well as to provide a reasonable living with access to housing, healthcare, re-training and other essentials to maintain life;
4. Remove the practice of giving employees working 11 hours (shift work) daily for 30 days only 1 rest day per month for the first year in the service industry;
5. Amend the 1973 policy which requires prior permission for work permit holders to marry locals. Instead those with relevant skills and who have worked in Singapore for least 2 years should be free to marry locals;
6. Remove excessive limitations on the right to organise workers e.g. Registrar of Trade Unions has powers to refuse or cancel registration, which could be used to obstruct the establishment of a trade union;
This Labour Day, Think Centre calls for Singaporeans, PRs and migrant workers alike to stay united, think resilient and act in solidarity with all 580 million people of ASEAN.
We strongly believe, together, we shall ride out this crisis as one caring and sharing ASEAN Community regardless of race, language or religion.
President of Think Centre
Sources and Relevant Links:
Singapore 1Q Unemployment Rate Rises To 4-Yr High
30 APRIL 2009
Think Centre Labour Day Message 2007
Think Centre Labour Day Message 2005
Think Centre LABOUR DAY MESSAGE 2004
Industrial peace must be achieved with justice!
01 December 2003
Think Centre LABOUR DAY MESSAGE 2003
Think Centre LABOUR DAY MESSAGE 2002
Want to Work: Sign away your rights
01 May 2002