Pledge to boost pay of low-wage workers

Pledge to boost pay of low-wage workers

The productivity and pay of cleaners and guards will go up, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has pledged.

He assured an audience of trade unionists on Tuesday that such low-wage workers will get a raft of help to lift their pay.

"We do have a problem with some low-wage jobs which have been stuck at low levels for too long," said Mr Tharman.

He cited examples of cleaners, security guards and landscape workers as needing higher pay.

Office cleaners and security guards earn basic monthly pay of $800, according to the Manpower Ministry's official wage data.

Mr Tharman, who is also the Finance Minister, was speaking at a three-day NTUC conference attended by about 1,100 union leaders and tripartite partners. He backed the union movement's "progressive wage model", unveiled last year, and said it was "already producing results".

The model sets a wage ladder where workers in low-wage jobs can earn higher pay through training and productivity gains.

The Government will support the model with regulations, and by working with employers and unions. "We will make sure the strategy works, and the pay and productivity of cleaners and security guards will go up."

Still, the model has not been all plain sailing. A month ago, the Security Association of Singapore, representing security firms, rebuffed the National Trades Union Congress' bid to raise security guards' pay using the model.

Mr Tharman vowed to help low-wage workers in various ways. They will get help to upgrade their skills and the Government will "be as aggressive as it takes in supporting continuous education and training", he said.

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