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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Daily Lessons from Life 13 February 2016 - Time for Government to do more for low-wage workers: MP Zainal Sapari

Tainan earthquake updates - RIP to 114 confirmed deaths. If the developers and those involved with the construction of that collapsed 17th storey residential building DID cheat, may they face their due force of justice.

"Time for Government to do more for low-wage workers: MP Zainal Sapari - CNA 13 Feb 2016

SINGAPORE: More can be done for low-wage workers, such as cleaners and security officers, as outsourcing has led to market failure contributing to the depression and stagnation of their wages. While the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) has helped, it is "not a magic wand", said MP Zainal Sapari in a blog post on Saturday (Feb 13).

The Assistant Secretary-General for National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) wrote on the Labourbeat blog saying that companies or organisations will call for tenders for such services and invite service providers to bid for contracts that come with a fixed time period. Typically, the lowest tenderer will be awarded the contract and the winning service provider has to keep its operating costs down to service the contract sustainably, he added.

The Labour MP said the PWM for the cleaning, security and landscape sector has been introduced, and is "part of the solution" as a prescribed wage level for the workers will create a level playing field for all service providers and service buyers.

However, the PWM cannot stop the resetting of wages during contract renewal or guarantee workers get the 13th month bonus or annual increment, he added.

As such, he questioned why if the PWM could be made mandatory, the same could not be done for increments and 13th month bonuses for the three industries as well.

"If so, all service providers would have to comply and the workers would be better off."

He also questioned why service buyers, the Government included, cannot be more worker-centric and try to maintain a long-term relationship with good service providers.

"If the service provider is good, continue to extend the contract with them even if the price is higher," he suggested. "Maybe, it’s about time we change the Government’s 'bible', also known as the Instructions Manual.""

The Labour MP has his heart at the right place but his analysis is flawed.

1. 'outsourcing' is never meant to be: JUST the CHEAPEST will win the contract as the service provider HAS to meet performance standard demanded besides just being measured on 'price'! If this is NOT the case, the government's bible, as he described it, is  seriously flawed! Heresy instead of being the Truth!;

2. touching on performance measurement, surely the service provider CAN be measured on 'being more worker-centric and practice higher standard of HRM' IF the buyers, especially the government, want to measure them. Yes?;

3. the 3 industries covered by PWM are labour intensive and normally done by FWs. Which is great as Singaporeans, being citizens of a first world nation, should aspire to do 'higher level and better paying job' instead of 'low wage jobs'. Alas, some may not be 'educated enough or qualified' for the higher wages jobs for whatever reasons. Hopefully these are of the minority and the government CAN help them to have a 'minimal wage' if they perform up to the expectation of the jobs. Eventually, cleaning where it could be mechanised, should be done by machines as much as possible. As for landscaping, I am find with FWs doing them as they are now. Finally for 'security guards', except for the major installations of strategic important need to be guarded by Singaporeans, places like condos can be covered by FWs again. The rest are better covered by 'electronic eyes and robots'.

Of course, the cutting of trees/tree branches and flowers/bushes can be done by robots too eventually if we have ONLY higher educated and qualified labour force for higher level and better paying jobs eventually!

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