Shanmugam: Government has 'comprehensive solution' to help low-wage workers

The Government has adopted a "comprehensive solution" to uplift lower-paid workers, Law Minister K Shanmugam said on Wednesday. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
The Government has adopted a "comprehensive solution" to uplift lower-paid workers, Law Minister K Shanmugam said on Wednesday. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The Government has adopted a "comprehensive solution" to uplift lower-paid workers, Law Minister K Shanmugam said on Wednesday.

It has offered them help and subsidies in the areas of housing, education, employment, and healthcare needs, he said after a fundraising event organised by the Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers (AUPDRW).

Mr Shanmugam, an adviser to the union, believes the multi-faceted approach has worked to "really push them up" but stressed the importance of upgrading their skills.

"You don't want to be in a situation where they are continuously doing the same job without upgrading," he said. "So we encourage the union and work with (them) to make sure their skills are upgraded. As a result, the kinds of jobs they are doing now are different from what they were doing earlier - though the actual cleaning up is the same."

He pointed to an increased mechanisation in jobs such as cleaning and maintenance, which has translated to higher salaries for workers trained to handle equipment involved in these tasks.

The East Coast Park event was attended by about 150 union members and representatives from donor companies. Mr Shanmugam later took part in a beach cleaning exercise as part of fundraising efforts that raised more than $100,000.

The money will fund the likes of student bursaries for children of union members, hospitalisation benefits and training programmes.

Mr Shanmugam added that the union's success in helping these workers to earn better salaries and a sign of Singapore's progress as a nation is reflected in the dwindling numbers of AUPDRW union members - whose salaries range between $1,200 and $1,700.

The only remaining daily-rated union in Singapore has a membership of about 700, around 600 less than in 1992. Members include cleaners, gravediggers and maintenance workers. Half are aged over 55.