Holistic approach to helping workers

Holistic approach to helping workers

SINGAPORE - As an inclusive labour movement, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) represented the concerns of workers from all collars and ages in our proposals on the Central Provident Fund (CPF) ("More needs to be done for low-wage workers"; last Thursday).

Out of our slew of proposals, one-fifth will positively impact low-wage workers. We called for the wage band for workers to receive the maximum Workfare Income Supplement payouts to be raised from $1,000 to $1,200 to benefit more low-wage workers.

And to enable more to receive CPF top-ups from their spouse or siblings under the Minimum Sum Topping-Up Scheme so that they can meet the Minimum Sum, we suggested increasing the recipients' annual income ceiling from $4,000 to $12,000.

Following our call last year, workers aged above 50 up to 55 now get higher CPF contribution rates - up by 2.5 percentage points. We continued our call to further close the gap between workers in this cohort and the younger ones so that they can also build up retirement savings.

We further asked that the contribution rates for workers aged above 55 be raised in tandem. This will benefit many low-wage workers, as many of them are above 55 years old.

Our CPF recommendations are but only one of the many ways that NTUC advances workers' interests.

We launched the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) in 2012 for workers to progress in wages, skills, productivity and career. Particularly for the low-wage sectors, we championed its use as a licensing condition to help raise wages.

Now, 35,000 Singaporean and permanent resident cleaners benefit from higher wages since the licensing took effect last September. Similarly, the PWM for security officers will benefit about 29,000 of them. Wages for workers in these two sectors will increase by 20 per cent to 30 per cent. This year, the PWM will be rolled out to the landscaping industry.

Low-wage workers are also the focus of the annual National Wages Council guidelines, whereby we called for a dollar quantum built-in wage increase for workers earning a basic monthly salary of up to $1,000: $50 in 2012, and $60 in 2013 and last year.

We also set up the U Care Centre that is dedicated to helping low-wage workers enhance employment and employability. We remain committed to helping our low-wage workers earn a better living and achieve retirement adequacy in Singapore.

This article was first published on February 03, 2015.
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