Saturday, 15 December 2012

Giving you the right to work for less money


When NTUC says no to same job equal pay it is quite similar to the “Right to Work” laws in the USA.  The “Right to Work” laws do not aim to provide a general guarantee of employment to people seeking work, but rather are a government regulation of the contractual agreements between employers and labour unions. #1

In US, the union opposes these laws and even President Obama warned the passing of these laws in Michigan State recently:  

"And by the way, what we shouldn't do -- I've just got to say this -- what we shouldn't be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions," he added to loud applause from the audience. "We shouldn't be doing that. The so-called 'right-to-work' laws -- they don't have to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money."http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/10/obama-michigan-right-to-work_n_2272408.html

We know one of the key arguments, for Chinese SMRT bus drivers, is they are CONTRACT workers (reference to first paragraph above). And because of the contractual nature and elements, President Obama said the real talking is giving you the right to work for less money.

You have the right to work under contract for same job but unequal pay.

However, there is big difference here between USA and Singapore. 

In US, the labour union including President Obama strongly opposes the "Right to Work" laws.  While in Singapore, NTUC supports laws and contract employment similar to "Right to Work" laws.  This explains why the wages are low in Singapore and even lower for foreign workers.  Providing employment like the "Right to Work" does not mean more pay, instead as what President Obama have said ‘right to work for less money’.    

This makes our NTUC and the PAP government look more like the Republican Party.  And unfortunately, they are not for the workers, not at side of trade union movement.    

More about "Right to Work" laws:
A right-to-work law is a statute in the United States of America that prohibits union security agreements, or agreements between labor unions and employers that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees' membership, payment of union dues, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring. "Right-to-work" laws do not, as the short phrase might suggest, aim to provide a general guarantee of employment to people seeking work, but rather are a government regulation of the contractual agreements between employers and labor unions that prevents them from excluding non-union workers.[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law

Now we look at the news report from Channelnewsasia:
       
Speaking to reporters, labour chief Lim Swee Say pointed out the idea of equal pay for the same job, will cause a lot of discrepancies, unhappiness and unfairness.http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1242837/1/.html

The concept of "Right to Work" in Singapore is ‘same job equal pay will cause discrepancies, unhappiness and unfairness.’  So, if we want to have jobs, and right to work, according to NTUC, we cannot have same job equal pay.

Now you know the NTUC is standing at which side.  No wonder we always say the PAP, the NTUC and the government is ‘3 in 1’ movement.     

As a result, Lim Swee Say has to stress that equal pay for foreign workers will 'disadvantage' locals. 

In the wake of the illegal strike last month by some SMRT bus drivers from China, calls have emerged for equal remuneration for all in the same jobs, but National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) chief Lim Swee Say said that this is "not the way to go", calling the issue a "complicated" and "sensitive" one.
Equal remuneration will "disadvantage" local workers and their families as they have to bear the cost of living here, while the bulk of the money foreign workers earned here is sent back to their home countries, said Mr Lim at a media conference to address migrant workers issues yesterday. http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC121215-0000047/NTUC-chief-addresses-migrant-worker-issues

Not only the NTUC cannot protect the equal pay for same job, it also wants exclusiveness as the sole representative of workers here, whether locals or foreigners.  

Asked if Singapore should have a separate union for foreign workers, Mr Lim said no, pointing out that the labour movement should be an inclusive union for all.
"If we do that, we will have different unions for foreign workers, for PMEs and for the older workers. If we go in that direction, social segregation in Singapore will become even worse," he pointed out. http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC121215-0000047/NTUC-chief-addresses-migrant-worker-issues

With one union, it is easy for the ‘3 in 1’ to move in the same direction.

So, are we heading for more troubles in employers-employees relationship for same job unequal pay, especially when the union is not at your side?

#1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law

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