Unions, bosses back new wage guidelines

Unions, bosses back new wage guidelines
Ms Cham Hui Fong said that while those earning close to $1,000 last year enjoyed pay hikes of around 6 per cent, once they crossed that threshold, subsequent raises fell back to around 3.5 to 4 per cent.

Unionists have backed new guidelines issued by the National Wages Council (NWC) yesterday - especially those recommending a pay rise for low-wage workers.

Two big employer groups also came out in support, but called on the Government to help with some rising costs that firms face.

Workers earning up to $1,000 a month can expect a pay hike of at least $60 this year, if their employers accept the guidelines.

The labour movement also praised a recommendation encouraging employers to grant a reasonable pay rise to workers after their monthly salary passes the $1,000 mark - though the NWC did not say what the increment should be.

National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said that while those earning close to $1,000 last year enjoyed pay hikes of around 6 per cent, once they crossed that threshold, subsequent raises fell back to around 3.5 to 4 per cent.

"For people whose pay is below $1,400 or $1,500, special consideration must be given," she said.

Unions also supported a guideline encouraging outsourced service contracts to take NWC pay recommendations into account.

Mr Nasordin Mohamad Hashim, president of the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees' Union, said: "For outsourced workers, if the buyers don't pay, employers can't increase the workers' salary."

He said his union includes workers in facilities management, where tender prices are falling.

All government bodies are required to take wages into consideration when outsourcing, said the Manpower Ministry.

Unions and employers also emphasised that real wage increases should be in tandem with productivity growth over the long term.

Although non-union firms lag behind unionised ones in adopting the guidelines, Singapore National Employers Federation president Stephen Lee said he had seen an improvement: "If you are consistently behind, maybe you will start to lose workers."

Smaller companies have been increasing wages to help recruit and retain workers, said Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.

"But costs are going up substantially... so it's important that the Government continues to support some cost factors," he said.

Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry president Thomas Chua said: "We hope the Government can contain non- wage business costs that are within its control, for example, government charges, regulatory compliance costs and rentals."

School cleaner Chu Gi Ti, 63 - who earns $1,000 a month - said: "Any pay rise is good. Right now, I can't save money and I'm worried I won't have a job in future."

joseow@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 31, 2014.
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