National Wages Council calls for reinstatement of wage cuts and higher wages for low-wage workers
IMPROVING LOW-WAGE WORKERS
For low-wage workers, NWC said their wages should rise faster than the median wage level to ensure sustained wage growth.
It recommended that employers grant a built-in wage increase of 4.5 to 7.5 percent of gross pay or S $ 70 to S $ 90 – whichever is greater – for workers earning a gross monthly salary of up to ‘to 2,000 Singaporean dollars.
Companies that are doing well and have experienced healthy revenue growth even during the COVID-19 period should aim for the upper end of the range, he said.
When it comes to companies that are recovering or have recovered, NWC said they could aim for the lower or middle of the range.
The NWC said the recommendation took into consideration a variety of factors, including the expected medium-term wage growth rate, the current economic climate, as well as the agreed three-part pace to raise low-wage workers so that they can gain ground on the median worker. .
In line with previous recommendations made by the Tripartite Working Group on Low-Wage Workers, the NWC called on employers to provide a higher percentage pay rise for workers earning comparatively lower wages.
With some hard-hit sectors and companies still considering an extension of the wage freeze, the NWC has suggested having a built-in wage increase of up to S $ 50 for employees earning a gross monthly salary of S $ 2,000 and less. .
As for those planning to implement further wage cuts, they should instead implement a wage freeze for this group of workers.
The NWC said it was moving from monthly base salary to gross monthly salary as a new benchmark, following recommendations from the tripartite task force.
Responding to a media question on the reasons for this, National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) Deputy General Secretary Chee Hong Tat said he would provide “a more standard test” for comparing different groups of low-paid workers. in different sectors. .
“So from a workers’ point of view what matters most is how much he or she actually earns per month and that is the total package including allowances… and some (overtime) it can also include other forms of employer payment, ”Mr. Chee said.
“(Using the gross monthly wage) we will ensure that the wages of this group of Singaporean workers are increased over time to gradually catch up with the median income.”
TRANSFORM JOBS AND STRENGTHEN SKILLS
Beyond restoring wage cuts and rising wages, the NWC called on all parties, including government, employers, unions and employees, to take decisive action to transform jobs and improve the skills of the workforce.
She expressed concern about the decrease in the proportion of employers who provided structured training to employees in 2020, compared to the previous year.
According to NWC, 65.4% of employers provided training to their employees in 2020, up from 79.1% in 2019.
The proportion of employees receiving formal training also increased from 55.8% in 2019 to 46.5% in 2020.
To address this issue, NWC encouraged employers to work with the labor movement to establish in-company training committees to strengthen their learning capabilities in the workplace, so employees can continue to keep pace with the transformation. .
Beyond that, employers and employees must innovate and implement productivity initiatives, and strive for better wages and skills, NWC said.
This includes redesigning jobs and re-skilling and retraining employees for new positions within the company, especially for those who are at higher risk of dismissal.
The NTUC affirmed its support for the latest NWC guidelines, adding that wage growth must be balanced and sustainable in the current economic climate to ensure job security and income stability for workers.
In a press release, the NTUC called on employers to fairly reward their workers based on the company’s performance and business prospects, and to pay special attention to improving low-wage workers.
“This is an important part of our social pact for Singapore to remain coherent as a united people,” he added.
The NTUC has also encouraged more companies to work with the labor movement to set up company training committees and invest in improving productivity and improving skills.
The Singapore National Employers’ Federation (SNEF) said it would continue to work with the government, the labor movement and employers to help the country come out stronger.
“Even as Singapore’s economy recovers, it is crucial that employers are agile, resilient and inclusive so that employers and their employees can come together to tackle any challenges along the way,” said Robert Yap, President by SNEF.
“By transforming businesses and improving employee skills, employers will be more agile to seize new growth opportunities as the economy rebounds. By improving wage flexibility, employers can be more resilient in the face of future economic downturns, ”he said.
“By being inclusive, employers can better motivate their low-wage workers to do the best they can at their jobs. “