Saturday Sighs

In News Reports, Politics, Society, Writing on December 15, 2012 at 8:50 am

Equally fair?
This headline left me scratching my head: “Pay fair wages regardless of nationality’’ in ST. You have to read further to find out what is “fair’’. I don’t know why the headline can’t just say: NTUC not happy with equal pay for equal job for all workers. That’s in the deck.
Why headline it this way? To make the point that being fair does not mean being equal? I sure hope that the day doesn’t come when Singaporeans have to go abroad to work at low-end jobs. At least, I hope our cost of living will be much much lower than it is now because I don’t think a foreign employer will pay us more just to take into account the cost of living over here.

Equally painful?
Students are going to be getting their character education awards soon – at the community centres. I suppose this is like Edusave scholarships and bursaries – presented by MPs at CCs. Are there going to be presented by MPs too in a ceremony that will require students and their parents to wait an hour?
Heng Swee Keat said the venue reflects how “excellence in all domains is valued by the community’’. Hmm, but these students were nominated by their teachers. So now will they have to go for two ceremonies? Are these Meet-the-MP sessions? Why not let the principals do the honours at the school’s annual Speech Day or something?

Calling it quits
I wonder how Daniel Au felt at being woken up by the cops one day three years ago and made to take a breathalyser test. The fellow had dozed off in a parked car after a night out on the town – and got nabbed for drink driving.
What a crazy case. I’m glad he was acquitted but seems he’s yet to get his $4K fine refunded to him although the judgement came out three weeks ago. Then there’s the matter of two weeks jail time he served. The G was reported in ST saying that it was studying the High Court decision and might bring it up for appeal. My goodness! It sure looks like an open-and-shut case to me. Unless you want to signal to drivers that you should NOT sleep in your car when you’re drunk, but attempt to avoid the cops and drive home under the influence…

  1. NTUC’s point about “fair wages” is valid from the employer’s point of view. Foreign worker levies reach about $500 a month, so “equal work for equal pay” would impose hardship on the employer. But if you’re a trade union, you should defend the worker’s point of view, not the employer’s, right? It’s another piece of weird logic that is taken for granted by the very people whose job is to question it. (Why the weird headline? Isn’t it obvious? Need to ask?)

    Whoever thought of increasing the foreign worker levy last year obviously didn’t give the whole idea too much thought. It hurts small SMEs greatly because the foreign worker levy is imposed strictly on a percentage basis, with no regard to the company size. So that means if you’re a 1-2 man operation (which happens more often than you think), trying to hire a foreign worker, you would automatically exceed the highest tier foreign worker quota and be liable to pay the maximum levy of $500 per month.

    By the way, if only it were easy to hire and keep hold of a local employee, some of whom treat an employment contract with the same regard as toilet roll.

    It’s unfortunate that a lot of these laments don’t get transmitted to the policy level. Here I shall put in a fair word and add that the government has been unbelievably generous to SMEs. Every company can claim $300,000 of renovation subsidies. But the levy is the real killer. What’s the point of having a nice office or a nice shop when it’s too expensive to hire anyone to help you?

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