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Tripartite workgroup to push for higher salaries, welfare for low-wage workers

SINGAPORE — A workgroup comprising the Government, the labour movement and employers will be formed to look into raising the salaries and well-being of low-income workers.

Tripartite workgroup to push for higher salaries, welfare for low-wage workers

From left: Labour chief Ng Chee Meng, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and SNEF president Robert Yap during their meeting on Sunday, Oct 11.

SINGAPORE — A workgroup comprising the Government, the labour movement and employers will be formed to look into raising the salaries and well-being of low-income workers.

This will include studying how Singapore’s tripartite partners can further expand on the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) and partner companies to raise productivity, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and labour chief Ng Chee Meng on Sunday (Oct 11).

Both Mrs Teo and Mr Ng took to Facebook to announce the formation of the tripartite workgroup, which will consist of representatives from the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

They said that they met SNEF president Robert Yap at HomeTeamNS Khatib Clubhouse on Sunday morning, where they agreed to form the workgroup.

Mrs Teo said that given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat recently shared his belief that a tripartite workgroup looking into the welfare of lower-wage workers will be especially beneficial now.

The workgroup, said Mr Ng, will push for the development of mandatory PWMs in more sectors.

The PWM, which started in 2012, is a framework where wages are pegged to skills, productivity and career development. It now covers around 80,000 workers in the cleaning, security and landscaping sectors.

In sectors where it is more difficult to implement the PWM, Mr Ng said the workgroup will allow them to study other feasible approaches, such sectoral or occupational wage benchmarks.

Mrs Teo added that in sectors where PWMs are mandatory, it is more important to sustain continued wage growth.

“We want to expand PWM to cover more workers while protecting their employability. Their families depend on them, and we must not take this concern lightly or treat it academically,” she said, adding the availability and nature of work is going through deep change at all levels.

Aside from wages, Mrs Teo also wrote about the launch of the Workcare Grant, which aims to support initiatives to improve the welfare of workers, such as the provision of rest areas.

Such initiatives, she said, should be “ground-up and pervasive”.

Mrs Teo said having a tripartite workgroup will allow key stakeholders to come together to examine issues holistically on what will work best for Singapore’s workers and businesses.

However, Mrs Teo also noted that it may take a while for a consensus to form.

Still, she said: “As we work towards recovery of our economy, this is also a good time to ensure our lower-wage workers, too, can emerge stronger from the crisis brought about by Covid-19.”

Related topics

low-wage workers Progressive Wage Model NTUC low-income families

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