NWC urges more effort to lift low-wage earners' pay

For the second year in a row, the National Wages Council (NWC) has recommended that firms give a minimum raise to employees who earn less than $1,000 a month.

It called on such workers to have their monthly salary increased by at least $60. Last year, the recommended increase was $50.

While eight in 10 companies in the unionised sector accepted the recommendations and boosted the pay of their low-wage workers by at least $50 last year, but only three in 10 non-unionised companies followed suit. Employer group Singapore National Federation of Employers say that the progress was a "good start", but the National Trades Union Congress said that it was "very concerned" with the slow pace.

Besides boosting low-wage workers' pay, the council recommended that companies that outsource their work should also consider wage hikes for outsourced workers by reviewing and adjusting the contracts.

The NWC also said that wage hikes have to be based on productivity gains, and firms should share their productivity gains with workers in a sustainable manner.

The council which is made up of union leaders, employer groups and government officials meet yearly to set wage guidelines. While companies are not compelled to accept the guidelines, the recommendations are nonetheless closely watched because they set the wage direction for the economy.

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