Coordinate NWC guidelines with foreign labour recruitment

Straits Times Forum

May 31, 2012

I UNDERSTAND that NTUC FairPrice took out advertisements in China to recruit cashiers and retail assistants, offering a monthly pay of $730 plus $200 housing allowance and $50 uniform allowance (‘FairPrice first to increase staff salaries’; last Friday).

Giant Hypermarket has also been advertising for retail staff in China.

Given the situation, the National Wages Council (NWC) recommendations may need to be coordinated with foreign labour policies.

Otherwise, increasing the wages of low-wage Singaporeans by $50, or up to $140 in the case of FairPrice, may lead to an even greater preference by employers for foreign workers, because they will be even cheaper to hire.

The reluctance of some employers to extend the recommended wage increase (‘Bosses okay higher pay but not built-in-raise’; last Friday) should also be seen in this light.

What about part-time workers? Will employers like FairPrice increase their current pay, which I understand is about $5 an hour?

After adjusting for current inflation at 5.4 per cent, and 20 per cent of the employee’s Central Provident Fund contribution, the $50 recommended wage increase may effectively be a negative real take-home pay for some workers.

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.