During COVID-19, many Singaporeans have come to better appreciate the importance of cleaners, food delivery personnel, and security guards. Yet the jobs of lower-wage workers such as these tend to be less secure, and they may have less savings to tide over difficult periods like this pandemic. Beyond emergency assistance, how can we improve their wages and well-being in the longer run?
#ChallengeAccepted. Through a tripartite consensus, this can be done.
Tripartism is a key factor of Singapore’s economic competitiveness. Harmonious labour relations, the bedrock on which Singapore’s early industrialisation efforts were based, remains important to our success. Instead of having disruptive strikes or violent protests, employer and union representatives work together with the government to examine issues and seek solutions.
Recently, the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers came up with 18 recommendations, such as expanding the Progressive Wage Model to new sectors. In about two years, the new measures will expand coverage of progressive wages to 82% of lower-wage workers. This was the result of consultations and careful negotiation, balanced between all stakeholders.
Over the years, our unique blend of tripartism has enabled us to rebuild from many crises. Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a consensus on the way forward for workers and businesses can see us through this storm and ensure that lower-wage workers can emerge stronger, together with the rest of Singapore.