Organised by the Singapore Business Federation, 400 members of the business community gathered at the Suntec City Convention Hall to commemorate the National Day. Among the attendees is Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang who said that the tripartism economic model has provided a stable environment for business in Singapore:
“We have established a set of fundamentals that has made Singapore a trusted brand around the world. The tripartism approach with government, labour unions and businesses working closely together towards common goals, has provided a stable operating environment for businesses in Singapore.”
However, Minister Lim Hng Kiang was not the first Minister who has been touting the tripartism model. Minister-without-portfolio cum NTUC chief Chan Chun Sing and the Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say have also in recent weeks trumpeting about the Singapore model of tripartism. According to the Ministers, employees enjoy income growth and employment rights when the union and businesses are brought together by the Singapore Government. This however is not true on several occasions.
Contrary to what the Government is espousing on its media, Singapore workers have however been shortchanged by the tripartism model.
Just three months ago in May, the Singapore Business Federation voiced their opposition against a S$60 wage increase for low income workers. Its Chief Operating Officer, Victor Tay said productivity gains are lagging behind wage growth:
“We have seen also in our Singapore Business Federation’s survey that a lot of businesses are facing thinning margins and … many of them are actually making losses now. So I think where this S$60 increment may seem as if it is small in quantum, but actually in proportion to their overall business costs, it has actually become huge, and in certain sectors, we have seen manpower costs in their business costs becoming 50 over per cent or so.”
Also two months ago in June, an employment report by the Manpower Ministry revealed that 55% of low income workers continue to see their salaries stagnate in 2014.
The influx of foreigners from 2007 to 2014 has also resulted in wage suppression and productivity decline. Unlike other first world countries, foreigners who are interested to work in Singapore does not need to take an international English test and neither does their certificates and qualifications need to be accredited. The end result is having PMET wages starting from as low as the mandatory S$2,200 for a qualified local graduate.