By: Phillip Ang
I refer to ST article, “Guaranteed pay rises will bring relief, say cleaners”.
As usual, ST has again published a half truth because not all cleaners will get a guaranteed pay rise.
But in its attempt to carry PAP’s balls, ST has actually shot its master and confirmed the non existence or uselessness of workers’ unions. That’s the positive part about the article.
The first interviewee, Leow Chin Kia, has been a cleaning supervisor earning a stagnant pay of $1300 for 8 years. Leow is among tens of thousands of cleaners who have seen their salaries stagnate, most earning negative real wages for years.
The PAP government has been talking about helping low wage workers since years ago. Since they are still talking today, the $200 proposed wage increase will be implemented only next year and over a 3-year period. Doesn’t matter if cleaners have been shortchanged for years with inflation having eaten into their miserable wages.
The best part is this will become a reality only for a small percentage of cleaners as cleaning companies are only encouraged, not obligated, by PAP wayang actors masking as labour chiefs to help increase cleaners’ wages.
As for the other interviewee, Junaina Ismail, ST puts the blame on a common practice – wage reset – in the cleaning industry. When a wage reset occurs, a cleaner’s wage falls back to the minimum level or $1000 due to a change in service providers or when contracts with service buyers are renewed.
Junaina has been a cleaner for the past 15 years earning $1400 before “she was sent to a new workplace last year”. The transfer to a new workplace by her company caused her income to fall to $1000, a drastic reduction of 28%.
A wage reset is possible only in an environment where workers have no real union protection. ST is too pai seh to state this fact but has done so indirectly.
Less educated cleaners are also competing with foreigners for wages in a race to the bottom, no thanks to our FT policy.
PAP MP Sapari, “Tripantat” Cluster for Cleaners chairman and star wayang actor, says he hopes the belated increase in a low pay job, will somehow … just somehow “attract even younger workers to become cleaners”. ITE may soon be conducting related courses.
Besides foreigners earning third-world wages back home, who is attracted to low pay jobs? Sapari’s relatives and PAP MPs? Is this the kind of good jobs PAP has been creating for Singaporeans, preparing us for the economic crisis akan datang?
Every Singaporean, regardless of the nature of their work, must be able to earn a decent wage without having to beg the PAP for handouts.
Negative real wages and wage “resets” would never have occurred to this extent if workers have real unions to protect them, especially the less- or uneducated.
Nevertheless, I would like to thank ST for highlighting the uselessness of our workers’ unions.