Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Bertha HarianBertha Harian


More money for doing more

This was what caught my eye in the whole mass of reports on NWC.

Security guard Chong Peng Suang, 70, hopes they mean he will finally get his first pay increase in his 22 years with his company. He earns a basic pay of $650 per month but is guaranteed four hours a day of overtime. ‘The basic pay is so low,’ he said.

I mean… That looks positively criminal! No increase in 22 years? How did he cope with rising costs and all? He couldn’t change jobs? I guess a bit hard cos he started at age 48? Anyway, I am a little confused by the employers reactions – they seem to want to reward only those who are “good” at their jobs. I thought the NWC was looking for some kind of “levelling up”? Because our low wages are far too low and we don’t want a minimum wage? So its $50 a month extra for 270,000 workers, including part-timers, who make less than $1K?. Much lower than Lim Chong Yah’s remedy of  50 per cent over three years for those earning less than $1,500. Still, employers lament. Maybe we should start with the 160,000 full-time workers instead – smaller number to deal with? That should be even more “sustainable” no?

What about the high wage workers? Maybe, a $50 cut? $100? To pay for the lower wage worker? Very small no? Much smaller than Prof Lim’s medicine… I suppose we don’t to mandate such income distribution. What about a voluntary one then for those earning $10,000 or more? With some big companies leading the way?

In any case, this thing about low-wage workers. We keep exhorting them to upgrade skills and be more productive. My guess is that some are already doing more than before, and better too. But the big question is whether they are being “paid” more for doing more, or have to do more simply to be paid the same. Every company wants to reward talent – especially the people who bring in the bucks. I gather pretty short shrift is given to support staff and those who do backbreaking work.

I was amazed when I heard that someone who delivers goods has not just to drive the van, but do everything else as well. Like a catering company which I know. The poor driver had to unload everything, carry goods some distance (he made 10 trips from parked van to premises cos he would have to foot any illegal parking ticket he gets) and set up everything on his own, settle the bills etc. Backbreaking work which requires two people in my reckoning. No, he’s not paid for doing two people’s jobs. Or when office staff have to learn a whole new set of skills, have added supervisory responsibilities but can’t get a pay increase because the pay structure for them is still stuck in the 1960s.

Written By

An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

Further reading

News Reports

I thought that first Singapore Conversation session threw up an interesting way of looking at what sort of country we want: by putting up...


What is your bum worth? The comfort of a Herman Miller chair? Your lumbar protected? Not too hard for those of bony hinds? Ergonomically...

News Reports

I have to say that I thought ST’s Page 1 story today on cleaning up Boat Quay a little strange. So auxillary police are...


Whenever I read about an agency spending money on itself (oops! I mean, money to serve the public better), my eyebrows automatically furrow. So...