National Wages Council recommends $60 pay raise for workers earning up to $1,100

SINGAPORE - The National Wages Council continued to focus on low-wage workers in its annual wage guidelines announced on Friday, recommending a minimum pay increase of at least $60 for those earning up to $1,100 a month in basic salary.

This works out to about a 5.4 per cent pay raise.

New chairman Peter Seah,who took the reins in April this year, announced this at a press briefing, saying that the council recognises that these workers have been upgrading their skills and increasing their productivity.

This is a step up from the previous cap of $1,000 for the similar quantitative guidelines the council gave over the past three years, as more workers are moving past that threshold but remain as low-wage workers.

Other workers can be given built-in wage increases taking into account business performance, prospects and sustainability, the council recommended, without stating a minimum amount.

An estimated 6.8 per cent of full-time Singaporean and permanent resident employees earn a basic monthly salary of up to $1,000 last year, down from 9.8 per cent in 2012.

Mr Seah stressed that the aim was to encourage sustainable wage increases, and urged employers and unions to focus on helping workers to deepen their skills and raise productivity.

"The council urges employers to share productivity gains fairly with workers in a sustainable manner," he said.

But while the fixed quantum figure has been a feature of the past few years for the recommendations, there could be a change to this from next year.

The council said it will review the need for quantitative guidelines for low-wage workers annually, taking into careful consideration factors such as Singapore's economic competitiveness, productivity performance, labour market conditions and inflations.

The National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation gave strong support to the guidelines. The civil service, Singapore's largest employer, has also accepted the recommendations.

The guidelines take effect from July 1.