What is a Progressive Wage Model?

From the low level PAP grassroots volunteers to the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, none of them can tell you its definition without taking a dump at Minimum Wage. The only likely answer you will get is “The Progressive Wage Model is better than Minimum Wage. Minimum Wage has more shortfalls than benefits.” You can even ask the man who concocted this term himself, Lim Swee Say, and this is what he said about its actual definition:

“The third component is the labour movement’s progressive wage system where four factors are pulled together to improve the workers’ well-being. These are skills, productivity, career path and the workers’ wages.”

Photo from NTUC
Photo from NTUC
Photo from NTUC
Photo from NTUC

However his definitions were all nullified by the first case of Progressive Wage Model. In 2014, cleaning companies are legislated by law to be licensed, with licensing requirements to “improve standards and productivity”, and more importantly, install a Minimum Wage of $1000 for all cleaners. This particular case raises questions about the fundamental attributes of a Progressive Wage Model:

1) Isn’t a Minimum Wage the reason why we have Progressive Wage Model? If companies are required to pay more then raising salaries, like enforcing compulsory training programmes as required by PWM, isn’t it accurate to say the PWM is worse than the Minimum Wage for employers?

2) Minimum Wage is enacted across all industries, but the PWM is only for a specific trade. So is it right to say some low level trades deserve to be abused without a Minimum Wage?

3) If PWM is linked to productivity, shouldn’t every cleaner be paid according to how productive they are instead of having a blanket $1000 Minimum Wage?.

4) PWM claims to be trade-specific. But 3 years since its inception in 2012, only the cleaning trade has been legislated. What about security guards? Construction workers? Dish washers? Or any other trades? PWM is obviously NOT trade-specific. The officials claim that cleaners are only the first phase, so how long will PWM be enforced across all trades? 50 years?

A Progressive Wage Model is just a convenient excuse to avoid the Minimum Wage. How else would you define a Progressive Wage Model then?

Do you think Chan Chun Sing will do a better job than Lim Swee Say did?

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