Cheaper Better Faster: Companies continue to exploit workers

According to the latest wages report by state-controlled media Channel News Asia[Source], Singapore employers have largely ignored the National Wages Council’s call for wage increase for low income workers. In 2012, the NWC recommended a $50 wage increase for low income workers earning $1000 and below. However, 70% of the non-unionized companies and 20% of the unionized companies ignored NWC’s call for the wage increase.¬†Despite such terrible outreach of the NWC’s call for a mere $50 wage increase, the president of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) could shamelessly praise that the embarrassing figures was a “good start”:

“Overall I think as the first year, (at) 30 per cent, I’m encouraged. This 30 per cent is up to December and different companies give wage increases at different times… I would expect some progress, perhaps by now, 40 per cent? It may not be a big jump but there may be incremental adjustments. I think it’s a good start.”
~Stephen Lim, president of SNEF

NWC’s parent organization, the National Trade Union Congress, is the only approved trade union in Singapore. Under the PAP, no private trade union is allowed to prevent employees from taking industrial actions like staging a protest. Henceforth, employers in Singapore trampled employee rights in Singapore with absurd self-made human resource practices like fining an employee $1 for every minute late [Source]. Especially in the private sector, where most of the employers are non-unionized Small and Medium Enterprises(SMEs) in the retail sector, rouge employment practices are rampant. Many foreign workers in Singapore are exploited and threatened with deportation if they dare report unfair employment practices like working overtime without getting paid or given a 72 hours work week.

A former retail assistant from Myanmar, G, spoke to The Real Singapore reporter, Alex Tan, over her employment conditions in a retail chain shop, Times Fashion [Link], in Bugis Street:

G: “Most of the retail staffs here in Bugis Street work 12 hours a day for 6 days, from 10am to 10pm. We are not paid extras on public holidays and our meal times is only 15 minutes.”

G’s employers are Malaysian citizens and are Permanent Residents living in Singapore. G also does not have her employment contract she signed because her employers told her she does not need to hold one. Despite being a S-pass holder and mandated by law to be paid a minimum of $2000, she has to pay her employer $800 in cash every month after a $2000 bank in to falsify income statements should there be an investigation by the Ministry of Manpower.

When asked why didn’t she report her employer to the MOM, G said: “It is like this for everyone here working in Bugis Street, and if I report, I will be sent back”

Foreign workers form the bulk of low income workers who are not aware of their employment rights in Singapore. They are often exploited by unscrupulous employers for long working hours with depressed salaries. As NTUC is a PAP-controlled workers union whose Secretary-General is a Minister of State sitting in the Prime Minister’s Office collecting more than a million dollars every year, employment rights are non-existent for low income workers.

Employers in Singapore have always demanded cheap foreign labor to push up their profits and the PAP government could only pander to their demands like an obedient dog. For the period of 2007 to 2012, Singapore sees a 47.5% jump in foreign workforce excluding domestic helpers [Source]. Today, the PAP government is telling Singaporeans to prepare for a 6.9 million population through a Population White Paper passed through by 79 PAP MPs in a Parliament of 87 elected MPs. Singaporeans have since staged two protests against the Population White Paper and voted the PAP out of power in 2 of the by-elections in Hougang and Punggol East(vacated by a former adulterous PAP MP Michael Palmer).

Unfortunately, the PAP government is importing up to 25,000 new citizens every year [Source], totaling to about more than 100,000 new citizens votes by 2016. New citizens are highly supportive of the PAP regime and its authoritative ways because they do not need to serve National Service and get to enjoy the fruits of labor put forth by hardworking Singaporeans. One such example is Li Ye Ming, a China-born new citizen who lambasted the Workers’ Party MP Low Thia Kiang for fanning xenophobic sentiments in Parliament. Due to the audacious number of new citizens coming every year, Singaporeans will no longer be able to vote the PAP government out of power by 2016 even if they want to.

By The Real Singapore


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