Workers' Party reiterates call for minimum wage in Labour Day message

The Workers' Party said in its May Day message that it is important to ensure all workers can take home a living wage. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party on Friday (April 30) reiterated its call for a minimum wage of $1,300 per month to be implemented across all sectors, arguing in a Labour Day message that introducing a wage floor will ensure that all workers have a decent shot at making a living.

It said that the notion of the Government's progressive wage model as a sectoral minimum wage tied to skills acquisition, described by various ministers as a minimum wage plus, "is not objectionable".

But the opposition party added that it was important to first get the basics right and ensure that all workers can take home a living wage.

The WP has been pushing strongly for a universal minimum wage, frequently sparring in Parliament on the issue with government ministers and People's Action Party MPs.

In its message, the WP noted that the global economy remains weak, with the Covid-19 pandemic still playing out, but said the crisis was also an important time to review some policies. "Even as the pandemic ebbs and wanes in cycles today, and when it is effectively managed tomorrow, Singaporeans will have to adapt to a post-pandemic world," said the WP.

"It is in this spirit that past and present Workers' Party MPs have spoken and continued to speak up in Parliament, to put forth alternative policy proposals."

Among its proposals are to introduce a redundancy insurance, and to introduce more legal protections for gig-economy workers. Said the WP: "As we deal with rising uncertainty in the global economy, we need to institutionalise automatic stabilisers for workers' incomes and overall consumer spending, so as to buffer these pressures."

The party also said that it agreed with the need for green policies, but urged the Government to ensure a "just transition" to such policies to ensure that Singaporeans do not get left behind.

It cited the petrol duty hike of up to 23 per cent, which was announced in the Budget in February and took effect immediately. The Government had said that it was being done to boost adoption of electric vehicles as part of Singapore's plans to combat climate change.

The WP suggested that the move could have been better timed, with the increases in duty introduced in tandem with the development of electric vehicle infrastructure, adding that this would have been better for private-hire drivers, delivery riders and other workers who have to rely on internal combustion engine vehicles for work.

The WP also singled out foreign workers and front-line workers for special mention.

It called for the continued improvement of the living and working conditions of foreign workers, and for the recognition of the nation's profound debt to front-line workers for leading the battle against Covid-19.

"We in the Workers' Party, like all fellow Singaporeans, salute them for their efforts. We were glad to see our nurses receive well-deserved pay increments in the course of Budget 2021, and we support such increments for other essential workers as well," it said.

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