Many Singaporean have little bargaining power and many still do not have capacities to deal with unreasonable employers. This Government does not even see the need for minimum wage to provide for the needs of workers and their families.
a first-world Labour movement
Singapore - This May Day 2011, Think Centre (TC), Singapore's oldest political association, calls on the Government and its National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) to remake and secure a first-world labour movement.
In a city-state with high cost of living today, Singaporean workers have no choice but to work long hours in order to secure their jobs and their pay. Without a minimum wage, our aged and lower educated workers are unable to compete fairly with migrant workers or gain a job with decent working conditions. Instead many suffer from low wages, poor working and living conditions. Unfortunately this Government does not see a need for minimum wages to provide for the needs of workers and their families.
Many Singaporean and migrant workers have little bargaining power and many still do not have capacities to deal with unreasonable employers. Many workers continue to make reports to the Ministry of Manpower about their poor working conditions and non-contribution of CPF by errant employers. They have been suppressed by irresponsible employers in terms of depressed wages, unreasonable hours, discrimination, and unfair dismissals. Such is not what a first-world labour movement like the NTUC should provide.
To remake the labour movement and help reclaim the rights of all workers and their families, TC urges the Government to update deficient labour legislation by amending or removing outdated policies to protect the rights of all workers and their families.
TC makes a 10-point demands to the Singapore government to:
1. Introduce a family friendly 40-hour working week
2. Implement minimum wage policy for identified sectors
3. Sign all ILO Core Labour Standards and harmonize national labour law accordingly
4. Institute stronger labour and anti-discrimination laws to protect workers from discrimination resulting from age, gender, race and religion, disabilities and nationality
5. Provide full support for retrenched and unemployed workers through a national social insurance scheme, as well as to provide a reasonable living with access to housing, health care, re-training and other essentials to maintain life
6. 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 at least 2 years should be free to marry locals
7. Remove all limitations on the right to organise workers e.g. Registrar of Trade Unions has excessive powers to refuse or cancel registration to obstruct the establishment of a trade union
8. Amend the CPF access rights to withdraw cash upon retirement age and during financial hardships
9. Legislate new policy to ensure employers provide decent working and living conditions for migrant workers (and their families)
10. Stop the high-handed practice of conveniently parachuting non-labour elites into the labour movement leadership. Such elites are not democratically elected by the workers and hence do not have strong empathy or mandate of the workers.
To secure our future together as an inclusive society, the Government must do more than walk its talk of delivering social protection and social insurance from the impact of global economic crises. It is not good enough to produce a 13-page manifesto which glosses over the core issues of high cost of housing, structural unemployment and rising healthcare costs faced by Singaporean and migrant workers struggling to meet the needs of their families.
In conclusion, TC wishes all workers a reflective yet forward-looking May Day 2011. This May Day, reflect on how secured this Government made us into a supposed first-world nation, and decide wisely how we want to send a clear message to the next Government to remake the labour movement.
Think: What has happen to just and fair wages? What has happen to human dignity? What has happen to freedoms? What has happen to rights?