Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Leaving no one behind!

Hi Friends,

The statement below should not surprise anyone.

It says,” But for the lowest-paid group of cleaners, labourers and related workers, the picture is bleak.

Their wages have remained stagnant for 10 years, unlike other groups such as …”

Being in a privileged profession, I am almost insulated from the sufferings of the lowest strata of our society.

Try as I might, I do not think that I truly understand the predicament of the fellow citizens whose daily life is a struggle of looking for permanent jobs that help them pay their rents/mortgages, pay for their children’s education as well as leaving some surplus for some small luxuries.

1.Will minimum wages help?

2.For the lower income jobs ( eg less than $1500/mth), will it help if MOM applies a more stringent local-foreigner ratio? Or even allow foreigners in only for higher value-added jobs where there is shortage of such skilled workers in Singaporeans?

3. Or should we pressurize the government to give more hand-outs for these poorer and less-employable Singaporeans? How to discourage free-loaders and “crutch” mentality?

Singaporeans, we are in this boat together. At this moment, the PAP is steering the boat. How do we ensure that it is going in the direction that we want to go? And that all of us will arrive in one piece- preferably better off than when we first left?

And that no man is left behind?

Tough questions demand tough solutions!


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Wages rose but not for those at the bottom (Straits Times 1 July 08)

3.8% growth last year after inflation widens income gap
By Clarissa Oon

THE strong economy and tight labour market have boosted the pay of Singapore workers - but only barely, owing to higher inflation.

Wages rose last year by 5.9 per cent - a seven-year high - from 4.5 per cent in 2006.
However, after adjusting for inflation, the increase was 3.8 per cent, said the Manpower Ministry's annual report on wages released yesterday.

But for the lowest-paid group of cleaners, labourers and related workers, the picture is bleak.
Their wages have remained stagnant for 10 years, unlike other groups
such as managers, professionals, sales and service workers, as well as plant and machine operators.

Last year, managers - the best-paid group - earned 4.86 times more than cleaners and labourers. The gap has widened in 10 years. It was 4.13 times in 1997.

Following the service sector's buoyant growth, sales and service workers are the best-paid among lower-skilled and blue-collar groups. Their pay is double that of cleaners and labourers.
The ministry's Report On Wages In Singapore surveyed 216,270 full-time workers in 2,909 companies.

The findings show the top earners are specialised surgeons ($22,196), followed by managing directors ($15,200) and general surgeons ($13,781).

Occupations in the bottom 10 per cent include private security guards ($1,278) and hospital attendants ($1,260), while cleaners, food and drink stall assistants as well as labourers were paid around $750 to $800.

Apart from the widening wage gap, the other piece of bad news is the decline in the productivity of workers. It fell 0.9 per cent last year after experiencing slowing growth in the previous two years.

From the viewpoint of companies, this means 'labour costs are growing faster than productivity', said Mr Kwan Chee Wei, chief human resources officer of logistics and shipping company IMC Corp.

Labour analysts and economists blamed the slide on employers stepping up their hiring of cheaper foreign workers, instead of spending money on retraining staff.

'It's an easy way out to keep costs down. We see it especially in the lower-skilled segment of the workforce,' said Mr Chua Hak Bin, strategist for Deutsche Bank's private wealth management.

He said the stagnant wages of the poorest among the lower-skilled are 'unlikely to go away anytime soon'.

The wage gap is even more acute among older workers.

Managers in their 40s appear to be making top dollar. Those aged between 40 and 44 made nearly twice that of managers aged 25 to 29.

However, growing older seems to work against lower-skilled and blue-collar workers owing to the physical nature of their jobs. Their wages rose only slightly and peaked early in their 30s.
To ease the pain for low-wage workers above age 35, the Government has been giving them payouts under the Workfare Income Supplement scheme.

Companies were also urged by the National Wages Council to give a one-off inflation bonus amid rising prices. Inflation is running at a 26-year high of 6.6 per cent.

However, analysts are not optimistic that the real earnings of low-wage workers can keep up.
'At the lower end (of the job market), increments are just going to be slightly ahead of inflation,' said Mr Kwan.

He added that 'the upper end is where competition for talent will drive up salaries, especially in growth sectors like hospitality and leisure'.

Economists say the Government is now juggling the twin challenges of growing the economy while trying to improve the average Singaporean's standard of living.

'It is going to have to balance the need for foreign workers - to cope with increasing labour demand - and the resulting downward pressure on residents' wages,' said Mr Chua.



SHIMURE said...

Well for the lower income life is very tough and getting tougher....

each cent is worth its weight in gold.

A friend of mine who has 3 kids, a wife to support recently shifted his work place to KL as the donut shop in KL is paying him better than the one in singapore.

Tough rite?

another who holds 2 jobs, a deliveryman by day and a waiter at nite is tough too.

another is an accounts officer during the day and a soya bean waitress at nite.

As for myself, i hold 3 jobs.
1) day job, purchaser,
2) tarot reader job
3) tuition teacher job too.

Well we learn to adapt to survive....

But how much more can we take?

i dunno.

2 cents worth of rant.

Anonymous said...

The evil of greeds in all the self proclaimed talents' self worth and a universal capitlist system that allows these talents to dictate over others. Being ruling political leaders, businessmen, top executives and cronies of rulers, these greedy sinners exploit whoever they are able to bully, without the slightest feel of guilt.

But rant and swear as we may, unless the exploiters find their consciences, the situation remains bleak for the weaklings. They are not just left behind, they are always left to sink to the bottom.

May I digress a little here for I thought that the Spiritual Components of the abilities to think and feel(emotion) make man(kind) a compassionate being. It seems this empirical claim does not stand to scrutiny with modern man. Or is the modern man overwhelmed by greeds.


SHIMURE said...

Well the captialism dream or the carrot which the rich and powerful dangles in front of the less fortunate is..... work hard and we will reward....

However.... the carrot is a lie....

Anyone of you played the half-life game portal?

We are like the main character in portal......

In the end.... the cake is a lie.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Shimure:
Sorry I am quite poor in computer games.
My kids can bit the shit out of me for these games- so I don't play them.
Also get stressed by them instead of relaxing! haha

SHIMURE said...

We are like the main player in the game. and GLaDOS ir the master computer is the system.

Portal's plot.

Portal's plot is revealed to the player via audio messages from GLaDOS and side rooms found in the later levels. The game begins with Chell waking up from a stasis bed and hearing instructions and warnings from GLaDOS about the upcoming test experience. This part of the game involves distinct "test chambers" that, in sequence, introduce players to the game's mechanics. GLaDOS's announcements serve not only to instruct Chell and help her progress through the game, but also to create atmosphere and develop the AI as a character.[9] Throughout this portion of the game, Chell is promised cake and grief counseling as her reward for completing all the test chambers.[20]

A typical Portal level with both of the player's colored portals opened. The Weighted Companion Cube can also be seen.Chell proceeds through the empty Enrichment Center, only interacting with GLaDOS. Over the course of the game, GLaDOS' motives are hinted to be more sinister than her helpful demeanor suggests. Although she is designed to appear helpful and encouraging, GLaDOS's actions and speech suggest insincerity and callous disregard for the test subjects. The test chambers become increasingly dangerous as Chell proceeds, and GLaDOS even directs Chell through "a live fire course designed for military androids" because the usual test chamber is being repaired. In another chamber, GLaDOS boasts about the fidelity and importance of the "Weighted Companion Cube", a waist-high crate with a single large pink heart on each face, for helping Chell to complete the chamber, but then declares that it "unfortunately must be euthanized" in an "emergency intelligence incinerator" before Chell can continue.[18] Some chambers include automated turrets with child-like voices that fire upon Chell, only to sympathize with her after being disabled ("I don't blame you." and "No hard feelings.").[14][21]

After Chell completes the final test chamber, GLaDOS congratulates her as the platform she is riding begins to slide into a large furnace to incinerate her. As GLaDOS assures her that "all Aperture technologies remain safely operational up to 4000 degrees Kelvin", Chell escapes with the use of the portal gun and makes her way through the maintenance areas within the Enrichment Center. Throughout this section, GLaDOS still sends messages to Chell and it becomes rather clear that GLaDOS has become corrupt and may have even killed all surviving people in the center, or there never were any at the start of the game. Chell makes her way through the maintenance areas and empty office spaces behind the chambers. Now, instead of guidance from GLaDOS, graffiti messages point Chell in the right direction. These "backstage" areas, which are in extreme disrepair, stand in stark contrast to the pristine test chambers. The graffiti includes statements such as "the cake is a lie" and pastiches of Emily Dickinson's poem "The Chariot" and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Reaper and the Flowers", mourning the death of the companion cube.[9]

GLaDOS attempts to dissuade Chell with threats of physical harm and misleading statements claiming that she is going the wrong way as Chell makes her way deeper into the maintenance areas. Eventually, Chell reaches a large chamber where GLaDOS's hardware hangs overhead. GLaDOS continues to attempt to plead with Chell, but during the exchange one of GLaDOS' core chips falls off. Chell drops it in an incinerator, and GLaDOS reveals that Chell has just destroyed the "morality core", which the Aperture Science employees allegedly installed after GLaDOS "flooded the enrichment center with a deadly neurotoxin", and goes on to state that now there is nothing to prevent her from doing so once again. A six-minute countdown starts up as Chell dislodges and incinerates more pieces of GLaDOS. After she has destroyed the final piece, a portal malfunction tears the room apart and transports everything to the surface. Chell lands outside the gates of the facility amid the rubble of GLaDOS.

The final scene, after a long and speedy zoom through the bowels of the facility, shows a mix of shelves surrounding a chocolate cake and the Weighted Companion Cube. The shelves contain various metallic "eye" components similar to GLaDOS' core chips, some of which begin to light up before a robotic arm descends and extinguishes the candle on the cake. The credits roll, and GLaDOS delivers a concluding report about Chell: the song "Still Alive",[22] in which GLaDOS sings "I'm doing science and I'm still alive."

SHIMURE said...

I feel we are like chell in the system.

the system is not caring and......

So even if we were to leave....

if doesn't even care....

cos it could always make new clones?

Anonymous said...

This place is run like a business and the motive is profits. When you leave, the foreign worker is hired to replace you, good for business if cheaper. Nothing personal, strictly business.

"leaving no one behind" is just a catchy slogan by the people running the show in Singapore.

It is about time the ordinary workers put these people running the show out of business.
Vote for a new group of people to sit as board of directors come 2011

Anonymous said...

Dr huang

I am more in favor of a minimum wage (although employers will be able to find ways around them as has been the experience in the US and elsewhere) than simple handouts. Why have wages for the bottom rung of our fellow-men remained where they are or worse still, declined? That's due to policies that makes it so easy to employ foreigners. These foreigners are willing to come in at lower wages. Policies like these are very capitalistic in nature, favouring the shareholders/owners of companies. We should spare a thought for the employees as well - something the govt should pay a little more attention to.

SS Sim

Anonymous said...

Wages at higher end can be caused by the great number of new 'FT's/ coming in where rental is added as a component of their packages. There is clearly a widening gap between the top earners and lowest strata of the workforce as foreign labour is being imported to depress costs at the lower end.
We need to put programs in place to ensure that citizens have a chance to get more decent jobs then just being table cleaners toilet attendants. Minimum wage can be considered though for a start we need to study the components of the imported labour as regards to total costs to businesses like the govt levy that is collected per imported worker(?) and if this portion can be instead given as wages to the employee. This should raise the wages for these job holders instead of the money channelled to the govt. Is this a fair thought?
Whilst not all jobs can be done by our down and out(maybe due to physical requirements of the jobs) but I am sure we can find other jobs that they can perform?
The SS

nofearSingapore said...

Hi SS Sim:
Thanks for your thoughtful response.
Simple Googling on the topic of Minimum wages will show us that it is a complex issue with no simple answers.

The link below shows both sides of the minimum wage debate.


The main arguments against minimum wage are:
1. Artificial high wage lead to misallocation of resources and market failure ( More supply than demand—cos it is a artifical price floor). May lead instead to unemployment as companies rather close than lose money.
2. May make companies uncompetitive and lead to outsourcing ( overseas to China etc)
3. Lead to inflation which affect poor most.
4. Companies try to get around it by employing part-timers, students, or desperate illegal workers ( eg illegal Mexicans in USA)

However previously in Sg, we did not need Min wages as the demand-supply of lowly skilled workers cause companies to naturally pay about $1.2-1.5K. However with the unlimited supply of foreigners ( so to say) being allowed in, and these foreigners are willing to work for $400-600/mth as this still translates to good home currency for them esply if they squat about 10-15 in an apartment, there is no hope in hell for the Sgporean to get pay more than $1200 in the unskilled sector. Our Sgporeans hence have to take 2-3 jobs and this is definitely not what they expected after toiling and sacrificing so much to make Sg the economic success it apparently is.

So either we reduce the supply of cheap foreign labour or have min wage of about $1000-1200, this will make it cheaper for companies to employ Sgporeans than foreigners as the latter need to pay foreign workers levy etc.

Perhaps a hybrid reduction of supply plus min wage.

SHIMURE said...

Alternatively, we could tighten the immigration control for low wage for foreign workers by having a higher levy.

Or by imposing higher penalties for illegal immigrants on the companies which employed them.

Perhaps even reposession of companies which hire illegal immigrants.

If we introduce a minimum wage, it would be across the board and not only affecting singaporeans but also foreigners. So everyone could be hired on equal basis.

just 2 cents worth