Singapore government-controlled union National Wages Council (NWC), today called for employers to increase the salaries of low wage workers (earning up to S$1,100 a month) by S$50-S$65. NWC chairman Peter Seah said the S$15 range in his recommendation is to measure affordability; companies that do well should pay S$15 more while those who can’t afford a pay raise for low wage workers should pay at least S$50 more.

“(The range) is to take into account affordability. There is also a very strong call that employers should reward their workers if they are doing well. Even in previous years when we used S$60, there were employers who gave more than S$60 to their low-wage workers.”

According to NWC, 6.9% of the full-time Singaporean/Permanent Residents workers in Singapore still earn below S$1,100 in 2015. The statistics of foreign worker is omitted. NWC also called for the “13th month bonus”, also known as the Annual Wage Supplement, to be included in all employment contracts.

However, employers are not mandated by law to follow the government’s call. There is no penalty for underpaying workers below the recommended “low wage” of S$11,50. Most low wage workers in Singapore are elderly. More elderly Singaporeans are expected to join the workforce as the CPF retirement system is unable to provide payouts to meet cost of living.

Singapore has the highest income gap among developed countries with a Gini coefficient of 4.60. The Singapore government refuse to set a poverty line that allows poor people to be easily identified and helped. There is no Minimum Wage in Singapore and working hours are not monitored by the Manpower Ministry, which depends only on tip-offs for employment breaches.

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