Low-wage workers raise concerns; labour movement looking into solutions

The labour movement released findings on Sunday, Aug 25, 2013, from focus group sessions held to identify the concerns of low-wage workers, reassuring them that steps are being looked into to address these anxieties. -- ST FILE PHOTO: SEAH KWANG
The labour movement released findings on Sunday, Aug 25, 2013, from focus group sessions held to identify the concerns of low-wage workers, reassuring them that steps are being looked into to address these anxieties. -- ST FILE PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

The labour movement released findings on Sunday from focus group sessions held to identify the concerns of low-wage workers, reassuring them that steps are being looked into to address these anxieties.

Chief among the worries are low salaries that do not keep up with inflation, discrimination, lack of support given, lack of awareness of employment rights, and inaccessible training opportunities.

Mr Zainal Sapari, director of the National Trades Union Congress Unit for Contract and Casual Workers, highlighted the need for stronger support in terms of training and upgrading opportunities, and to raise public awareness of some of the challenges faced.

The union is looking into extending its Progressive Wage Model to include the security and landscaping industries, as well as carpark attendants. It is also exploring the setting up of a 'one-stop centre' for low-wage workers to seek help and redress on workplace-related issues.

Mr Zainal, who is also MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, emphasised that location is key, and the union could do more in terms of outreach projects.

But he declined to provide a timeline for these proposals, saying that work is still in the "premature" stages.

Some 100 participants comprising low-wage workers, service buyers and providers, and union and grassroots leaders, took part in three focus group sessions held in August.

Mr Zainal said a bottom-up approach is key to effectively help low-wage workers. "We wanted to hear from the ground the concerns and...what more can be done to better the lives of this vulnerable group of workers."