May Day Rally

WP urges better support for S'porean workers, older PMETs

The Workers' Party (WP) has called for better support for older professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) in its May Day message, while setting out four suggestions on how to help Singaporean workers.

In a statement yesterday, the WP noted that Singapore's 1.2 million or so PMETs make up more than half of its resident workforce. It added that by 2030, two out of three workers will belong to this group.

The party said PMETs face various challenges. Of the locals retrenched last year, 76 per cent were from this group. The WP said only 63 per cent of the retrenched found work within six months.

With almost 70 per cent of retrenched workers aged 40 and older, the party said the situation is worse for older PMETs.

"At the same time, PMETs are facing renewed competition from mid-skilled foreign workers," the WP said, citing figures to show the number of foreign S Pass holders grew by 11,100 last year.

Underemployment is another challenge for at least 3.3 per cent of the workforce, it added.

To address the issues Singapore is facing, the WP set out four suggestions on how citizens can be given more help.

First, Singaporeans must be able to compete for jobs with foreigners on a level playing field, it said, adding that applicants for Employment Passes and S Passes should be subject to an assessment to ensure that their certificates are genuine.

Second, the retirement age should be abolished and the Government should look into how businesses, especially smaller ones, can be encouraged to hire older workers.

Third, there should be stronger social safety nets for those who are retrenched and unemployed, said the WP, reiterating its earlier suggestion of a redundancy insurance scheme to reduce financial pressure on such workers.

This means workers who have been laid off could be covered by some form of insurance funded by premiums they and their employers pay when employed.

Fourth, the WP said that in measuring underemployment, skills and income mismatches with workers' qualifications should be included along with the current consideration given to part-timers who wish to work more hours or full time.

"WP wants Singapore to remain an open, global, trading nation, but one which fiercely protects the welfare of Singaporean workers, including PMETs," it said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2019, with the headline 'WP urges better support for S'porean workers, older PMETs'. Print Edition | Subscribe