Thursday, 2 August 2012

EMPLOYMENT Ministry for low income workers and quality jobs for locals?

Cabinet changes, new and more ministries, how about creating one more ministry or renaming the Manpower Ministry to Ministry of Manpower and Employment.    If the government is serious about improving the life quality of Singaporeans, it is important to provide quality jobs to local PMETs and ensure above poverty line income for the low income workers.

Why employment? Why employment for Singaporeans is more important than manpower planning of foreign labour? And employment is more important than collecting CPF if there is no employment there is no CPF?

Families need to have employment income for Social and Family Development.  Poverty families with continued low income will find difficult to appreciate Culture, Community and Youth. Low income families will find Communications and Information hard to understand and digest.

As we are a capitalist society, employment means money and income.  It is important to have a good job and a reasonable income to fight poverty rather than creating new ministry or changing ministry names.  When a family has a stable employment income, it will distribute the money and engage the activities of the 3 ministries.   

Since the government is not willing to provide safety net and social welfare to Singaporeans, it is important it provides good quality jobs and regulate the low income job market to ensure compensation are paid above the poverty level.  More good jobs created and more income for low income families, less activity and administration will be required for the 3 ministries.  

Is it because the government is not able to create quality jobs and ensure minimum income for low wage workers, and then they have to think of creating and re-structuring the 3 ministries?     

The past and even current pay structure for low income workers is not helping them to fight the vicious circle.  As explained by Professor Lim Chong Yah, the real income to low wage workers has not increased for many years. These workers will not have a chance to come out of the poverty. The change from 2 to 3 ministries will not help low income families much if the bread earners continue to earn low wages.  In paper and administration, you can create more assistance; however, this is not teaching low income workers how to fish, rather it is providing them a broken hope of safety nets.

NTUC supposes to help workers, especially low income workers.  It is now more interested to make money and goes into businesses.  Even for training of workers, it has become an enterprise for NTUC.  Skill Developments Fund is a cash cow in the form of training grants. No wonder NTUC forgets its duty is to improve the life of workers.  Low income workers will continue to have low wages and they have not received assistance from NTUC either. The proposed Employment Minister will have to look into this matter.  

The economic re-structure will result to mismatch of employment opportunities, more short-term or contract jobs, more difficult to find a job offering same or higher salary for PMETs if they leave the current jobs.
Manpower planning is easy.   For locals just send them for re-training, re-skilling, or retirement. For foreigners, just send them back to their home countries.  Is it really that simple?

Perhaps, this is the job of Manpower Ministry but not Employment Ministry. Employment Ministry is to ensure low income workers have their fair share and not receiving a wage that will keep them in the poverty circle. Employment also means quality jobs are created for locals and fair treatment for locals, disadvantaged, and women with children.

If really there is a change of government priority, even though our unemployment rate is low, the mind-set has to change from just simple manpower supply and demand to creating quality employment and fair compensation for low income workers. 

So far, the cabinet changes and the 2 to 3 ministries have no indication of such a change of mind-set and thinking.  Maybe creating quality job for locals and paying fair compensation to fight poverty is still not the priority for the PAP government.

Anyway, with the promotion and new ministries, they have created good and quality jobs for themselves. We now wait and see how they create quality jobs for local PMETs and ensure fair compensation for low income workers.

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