Give targeted help for workers facing problems

Elderly cleaners at the Maxwell Market food centre.
Elderly cleaners at the Maxwell Market food centre. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The debate of Budget 2016 continued yesterday as 25 MPs discussed the economic goals for the financial year. They talked about the right culture for entrepreneurship to thrive, support for working mothers, and help for workers of different income levels. Chong Zi Liang reports.

MPs continued to highlight the difficulties faced by workers at different income levels.

Mr Zainal Sapari (Paris Ris-Punggol GRC), spotlighting low-wage workers, recounted how a cleaning company lost its contract with a statutory board because it had factored in a one-month bonus for its workers.

The cleaners went to work at another company and lost their employment benefits. They were also paid less.

"There are many Singaporeans working in the low-income sectors who face stagnating wages and are resigned to the fact that their situation won't change," he said.

Mr Zainal, who is assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress, urged the Government to target a higher percentage rise in real wages for earners at the 20th income percentile, who now do not enjoy as big an increase as those in the better-paid 50th percentile.

Professionals, managers, executives and technicians are also hit hard in the current economic slowdown, MPs said.

Dr Lily Neo (Jalan Besar GRC) wants more incentive schemes and coaches for retrenched workers to persuade them to switch to the growing IT sector.

Nominated MP K. Thanaletchimi, a veteran unionist, said those laid off should not only get training grants, but also support from mentors to help them adapt quickly to their new work environment.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Give targeted help for workers facing problems'. Print Edition | Subscribe