A “Depressing” story of wages in Singapore?
I refer to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Report on Wages in Singapore, 2011, released om 29 June.http://www.mom.gov.sg/statistics-publications/national-labour-market-information/publications/pages/report-wages-singapore11.aspx
From basic wage to total wage to including cpf to adjusted CPI?
Taking into account the rise in CPI, real total wages rose by 0.1% while real basic wages declined by 0.8% in 2011. Including employer CPF contributions, real total wages grew by 0.9% in 2011.
I understand that historically, median wage increase was given as excluding the employer CPF contributions, and the measure of “real total wages” appears to be a fairly new development.
In any case, a historical comparison using past benchmarks still means that median wages fell by 0.8% last year.
Similarly, as to “When adjusted using CPI excluding imputed rentals on owner-occupied accommodation, total wages (including employer CPF contributions) grew in real terms by 1.9% in 2011”, this may also be a relatively new measure, apparently not used in the distant past.
In this connection, I find it rather contradictory to say that as most Singaporeans already have a house and don’t have a car (thus, no COE), inflation using the CPI isn’t so bad, and yet when we increase things like the CPF Minimum Sum, CPF Medisave Minimum Sum, etc, we use the full CPI?
Growth in real wages in line with productivity: Really?
Labour productivity rose by 1.0% in 2011. Over the longer period from 2000 to 2011, labour productivity grew by 1.7% per annum (p.a.) while real total wages (including employer CPF contributions) increased by 1.6% p.a.
So, what was the real basic wages increase excluding employer CPF contributions (not real total wages including employer CPF contributions) from 2000 to 2011? Perhaps even lower than the 1.6% p.a.?
Majority did not give one-off special payment to RAF
As at December 2011, only a minority (4.1%) of private establishments with RAF (Rank-And-File) employees had given/intended to give a one-off special payment (recommended by the National Wages Council (NWC)) to their RAF employees while 5.1% was still considering whether to give.
The above shows that most employers (95.9%) did not follow the NWC’s recommendations. Shouldn’t our unions do something about this? Otherwise, workers’ real wage increase may continue to lanquish in the doldrums, with negative real increase in 2008 and 2009, just 0.5% in 2010, and now – 0.8% last year. With inflation at 5% now, how will workers fare this year?
32% of establishments did not raise wages in 2011
The proportion of private establishments that raised total wages of their workers was 68% in 2011 and the average quantum of wage increase in these firms at 6.6% was lower than 7.6% in 2010. The proportion that cut wages in 2011 (8.5%) was higher than 2010 (8.2%), with quantum of wage cut the same at 4.3%. The remaining 23% kept their wages unchanged in 2011.
If we adjust for inflation, how many workers did not get a real wage increase?
Some profitable establishments did not raise wages
The majority of profitable Category A (84%), Category B (76%) and Category C (63%) establishments raised wages, while slightly over one in two (53%) loss-making Category D establishments either froze or cut wages.
So, if wage increase should be linked to productivity increase, which leads to profitable firms, and even some profitable firms did not raise wages, how do workers cope with inflation?
Overall unit labour cost rose
The overall unit labour cost (ULC) rose by 3.4% in 2011.
Some get paid less as they grow older?
The median monthly gross wage for cleaners, labourers & related workers was $1,020.
Wages tend to rise with age as workers gain experience. However, the wages of plant & machine operators and cleaners, labourers & related workers were largely flat for younger workers before declining for those in their mid forties onwards. Advancing age typically works against workers in physically demanding manual occupations.
Service & sales workers also generally had declining wages as they grow older. For example, the Ratio of Median Monthly Gross Wages for those age 60 to 64 relative to Age Group 25 to 29, was 0.65. This means that by the time you are age 60 to 64, you may be getting about 35% less pay than when you were age 25 to 29. If you adjust for inflation, your real pay may have literally been cut to the bone!
Other low-wage workers include food/drink stall assistants ($900), the lower-paid hawker/stall holders (prepared food or drinks) ($1,200), waiters ($1,300) and cleaners in offices & other establishments ($815).
Leong Sze Hian