Sakae Sushi’s $3,000 cleaner-and-dishwasher job has many of the characteristics of poor human resources design so prevalent in Singapore. Even if they manage to fill the ten positions that the company has, I suspect it is not a sustainable solution. Employees will not stay long or will call in sick with little notice, causing disruption to operations. Singapore bosses often pin blame on employees’ poor work attitude but few bosses interrogate their own attitudes towards their staff and their own limitations when it comes to designing jobs. Continue reading ‘The future according to sushi’
Archive for the 'business and employment' Category
You reporters are missing the point — was what I felt on seeing that the chief angle of both stories in the Straits Times was how difficult it can be for teachers to maintain discipline in schools if parents did not cooperate. Yes, that’s a valid news angle, but surely the most striking thing about the story was that of a mother who takes her son to a hair salon for $60 styling jobs.
What kind of values does that instill in children? Continue reading ‘Haircuts, hotels and photo clubs’
Although it’s a longish segment, the discussion here largely centres around one theme: the trade-off between economic growth and population stability. All panelists agree that any discussion about population policy must involve the question of the economic model, though also that it’s not a simple trade-off. Naturally, each one has a different take on the question. Continue reading ‘Online|Offline: Video forum on xenophobia, part 2′
Guest essay by Joanne Leow
Supertrees, green spaces and urban development: strange yet compelling connections between the impending demolition of Bukit Brown and the public relations blitz accompanying the opening of the new Gardens by the Bay, with their $1 billion Supertrees and cooled conservatories. One space has been made significant by a spontaneous, communal outpouring, newly cognizant of both its historical and environmental specificity – the other has been planned by the government, designed by a British firm and built by (exploited) foreign labour on land that has been reclaimed from the sea. Continue reading ‘On Supertrees, neo-colonialism and globalisation’
In Part 1, I gave an overview of the proposed amendments to the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). I am of the view that the changes do more to make sure employers and workers do not trifle with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) than ensure that employers treat low-wage foreign workers fairly.
The two chief ways by which employers exploit and abuse workers are by (a) underpaying or not paying their salaries and (b) by abandoning them after they have been injured.
Here in Part 2, I am going to discuss in greater detail the salary-related issues and point out how the proposed changes do almost nothing to address this problem. Continue reading ‘Changes in foreign worker law: who benefits? Part 2′
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is groaning under the weight of foreign manpower-related cases. There are all sorts of job scams going on, and thousands of short-payment and work injury claims. In its latest attempt to address the problem, the ministry has proposed, in a consultation paper, to amend the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), but the changes seem to me to be more concerned with punishing those who flout the ministry’s rules than those who abuse workers.
It doesn’t take much exaggeration for me to reduce this to one pithy statement: You can abuse your workers as much as you like, just don’t disrespect the government.
It hit me yesterday that we are at risk of brandishing the term “productivity” as if we truly understand what it is and, more importantly, how it is measured. It is a very technical thing, and from what I understand, there are serious difficulties in measuring it. I myself am in no position to explain it to you. But I am given to understand that while methods for determining Total Factor Productivity are reasonably advanced and established at the level of national accounts, they can get devilishly difficult at sectorial or industry levels. Even more so at the level of a company.
And yet, the prime minister’s rejoinder to economist Lim Chong Yah’s idea to raise the wages of low-income workers by 50 percent over three years, was to link the wages of lower-level workers to productivity gains. Continue reading ‘In a market economy, wages aren’t determined by wishful thinking’
With a larger opposition presence in parliament, ministers and People’s Action Party (PAP) backbenchers have become more aggressive in making the case that government policies do indeed help the more disadvantaged in society. This became particularly notable during the recent parliamentary sittings when the first budget post-general election 2011 was debated. In defending their “virtue”, I see the PAP side resorting to soundbites several times. Have they been coached by public relations people?
The trouble with soundbites is that in achieving their effect by reducing an issue to a memorable phrase, they must necessarily over-simplify. And someone like me will react by saying: Hold on a minute, what does that oversimplification gloss over or conceal?
For the most recent session of parliament Yaw Shin Leong (ex-Workers’ Party/Hougang) asked Manpower Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam for some statistics about the numbers of work passes issued to foreigners. Tharman provided numbers of his choosing (in other words, not quite in answer to Yaw’s question) that are so scanty, no reader can make much sense of them.
In the last month or so, several people, journalists mostly, have asked my opinion whether, six to nine months after the People’s Action Party (PAP) received a bloodied nose at the 2011 general elections, anything has changed in the way Singapore is governed. In the main, I have said No.
In this article, I am going to give you an example why I don’t see any real change. My example relates to a news item involving foreign workers, not because foreign worker policy is the touchstone of political governance, but because it’s an area I am relatively knowledgeable about. I am sure readers can find similar examples from other policy areas that they have insight into, that equally illustrates little change. Also, the tale here is not about foreign workers per se, but about how the government continues to massage the news.
My point is this: If the government is expending so much effort massaging the news, it can only suggest that it has little interest in doing things any differently from before. It seems more concerned about LOOKING good, not DOING better.