Archive for the 'business and employment' Category



Town councils should write minimum wage into cleaning contracts

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The comment that caught my eye was one by an Eric Lim: “This is not even half-hearted…” he wrote.

It was exactly my feeling as I read the news story preceding it in Today newspaper, 3 June 2013. Headlined “Wage recommendations have to gain traction: Labour MP“, it reported Member of Parliament  Zainal Sapari (PAP, Pasir Ris-Punggol) saying that the National Wages Council’s (NWC) recommendation that wages for workers earning up to S$1,000 a month be raised by a minimum of S$60 needs to gain acceptance by employers before more can be done to help them.

The recommendation has to “gain traction with employers first before we even consider recommending a larger amount,” the newspaper reported him as saying, while revealing that last year’s recommendation of a S$50 built-in quantum saw only a 30 percent adoption rate among non-unionised companies. Continue reading ‘Town councils should write minimum wage into cleaning contracts’

Oh joy, our economy’s bubbling again, says our nation-building press

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Few things annoy me as much as when our nation-building press gets carried away. Today’s front page of the Straits Times has a headline “Singapore posts surprise Q1 growth”, leading a story that speaks — as breathlessly as a teenage groupie — of “good news”.

It quotes unnamed economists saying that “the numbers point to the resilience of the Singapore economy”.

Then it gives the Star Award to the financial services sector, reporting — wrongly — that it grew “about 51 per cent over the previous quarter”, before discussing other sectors such as construction and manufacturing. Of the latter, it reported that it “contracted 4.7 per cent over the year.” Wrong again. It actually contracted by 10.4 percent when measured at current prices, and contracted 6.8 percent when measured in constant 2005 dollars. These are Greek-style plunges. Continue reading ‘Oh joy, our economy’s bubbling again, says our nation-building press’

Population: Elemental considerations 2

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In the executive summary of the Population White Paper and on page 32, it says:

By 2030, the number of Singaporeans in Professional, Managerial, Executive and Technical (PMET) jobs is expected to rise by nearly 50% to about 1.25 million compared to 850,000 today, while the number in non-PMET jobs is expected to fall by over 20% to 650,000 compared to 850,000 today. Overall, two-thirds of Singaporeans will hold PMET jobs in 2030, compared to about half today.

This is followed by a graphic that reinforces the above: Continue reading ‘Population: Elemental considerations 2′

MOM confuses tough questions with “false allegations”

pic_201301_32The Ministry of Manpower felt their integrity was impugned by “serious allegations” that are “entirely false” in my recent article “Injured worker awarded $69,000 in compensation, employer not paying”. They issued a media statement Friday, 18 January 2013. You can see the statement in full here.

My article raised three key issues: Continue reading ‘MOM confuses tough questions with “false allegations”’

Injured worker awarded $69,000 in compensation, employer not paying

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Uzzal Kumar Mondal won his case at the ‘Labour Court’ and was awarded compensation totalling $69,838. A workplace accident left him virtually blind in his right eye. The compensation order was issued on 25 October 2012. His employer has stubbornly not paid despite being given a deadline of 21 days from the date of the court order. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is not lifting a finger to help him get what is due to him.

Quite the contrary. In the second week of January, an MOM officer called him back and interrogated him. For four hours, according to Uzzal, he was talked to constantly. The officer asked him all sorts of questions about the accident all over again, at one point saying something to the effect that if his details today did not coincide with his earlier statements, there would be “problems” for him.

What was meant by that?

Uzzal felt harassed throughout. He felt that the officer was intent on tripping him up, and fishing for ways to reverse the court order; perhaps even looking for a way to prosecute him for lying under oath. Continue reading ‘Injured worker awarded $69,000 in compensation, employer not paying’

Who chases workers up cranes?

pic_201212_05Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said the recent SMRT bus drivers’ strike was a “wake-up call” to employers, asking them to reflect on their own human resource and feedback systems.

Are there avenues for complaints and so on available? Are they working the way they are supposed to and so on?

– Today, 4 December 2012, SMRT drivers’ illegal strike a wake-up call for companies: Tan Chuan-Jin

He should start with his own ministry. Are there effective avenues for complaints and satisfactory resolution for workers at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)? Are they working the way they are supposed to? Continue reading ‘Who chases workers up cranes?’

Shoes and the public

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I needed a new pair of shoes; the old pair didn’t survive Bali.

The sales assistant at Famous Brands saw me take an interest in a sample shoe on the shelf. I was flexing it to check its suppleness, scrutinising its sole, but still a little doubtful about the colour. She said, in Chinese, “It’s a good brand.”

“Why are you speaking Chinese to me?” I asked. “Would you speak English to me please?”

“Yes,” she replied (in English), followed two seconds later with another sentence in Chinese extolling the virtues of the shoe. Continue reading ‘Shoes and the public’

As bus drivers strike, government messaging goes into overdrive.

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I have three points to make about the industrial action undertaken by bus drivers of SMRT Corp earlier this week.  171 of them, all recruited from China, failed to show up for work last Monday; 88 were absent the following day (Source: Straits Times, 1 Dec 2012, SMRT has deep-seated issues: CEO).

My 3 points are:

1.  There should be equal pay for equal work;

2. The government is shooting itself in its own foot by abandoning principle #1 above;

3. The government pretends there is a process for labour justice, but there isn’t and its absence sows the seed for future instability. Continue reading ‘As bus drivers strike, government messaging goes into overdrive.’

Standing up against racism is the easy test, Singapore government needs to show its true colours

Swiftly, the National Trades Union Congress sacked Amy Cheong. The erstwhile Assistant Director for Memberships had posted on Facebook racist remarks (see at left) about Malay weddings held at void decks.

No less than the prime minister chipped in to condemn her behaviour. Writing on Facebook, Lee Hsien Loong, currently in New Zealand avoiding reporters, said it was “an isolated case that does not reflect the strength of race relations in Singapore.”

He added: “But it sharply reminds us how easily a few thoughtless words can cause grave offence to many, and undermine our racial and religious harmony.”

This reaction follows an established course. Race and religion have always been considered highly sensitive issues in Singapore. The Sedition Act has been used against several others who have similarly made foul comments of such nature over the internet. Whether Amy Cheong will likewise be prosecuted is yet unknown. Continue reading ‘Standing up against racism is the easy test, Singapore government needs to show its true colours’

On foreign labour and the income gap: Acting in moderation or muddling through?

In a blogpost on 30 September, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-jin laid out some numbers to show that the growth in the foreign workforce is moderating. At the same time, he discussed the difficult balance that has to be struck between business anxieties about labour shortage and popular frustration over too many foreigners in Singapore.

Popular frustration takes three forms: (a) job competition, (b) crowding and infrastructure overload, and (c) cultural destabilisation. Different people would give a different weightage to these concerns. For this discussion however, I am going to focus on job competition alone. Continue reading ‘On foreign labour and the income gap: Acting in moderation or muddling through?’


For an update of the case against me, please see AGC versus me, the 2013 round.

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