Wage hikes for retail, F&B workers will need whole-of-society support: MP Yeo Wan Ling

MP Yeo Wan Ling distributing care packages to Koufu staff at Punggol Plaza.
MP Yeo Wan Ling distributing care packages to Koufu staff at Punggol Plaza.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - While wage hikes in the food and beverage (F&B) and retail sectors may cause prices to increase, employers and consumers should play their part to uplift lower-wage workers, said MP Yeo Wan Ling, who is also the director of NTUC's small and medium-sized enterprises arm U SME.

Ms Yeo was speaking at a media briefing on Sunday (Sept 5) ahead of a distribution drive to give out care packages to cleaners, retail and F&B workers at Punggol Shore division.

Noting how a whole-of-society approach is crucial to implement the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) in the two sectors, she urged the public to support local workers who have been battling a manpower crunch with longer working hours and workloads during the pandemic.

"We hope that as a compassionate and kind society, consumers will also help us uplift the lives of our fellow Singaporeans," she added.

A total of 2,300 care packages were given out by NTUC staff and Punggol Shore volunteers over two days. The first hundred of these packages were given out on Aug 29 to community cleaners, while the rest were delivered to retail and F&B workers at Oasis Terraces, Punggol Place and Tebing Lane on Sunday.

Each care package included five types of snacks and chrysanthemum tea packets.

Ms Yeo said: "Our essential workers have been putting in additional hours during the pandemic, with cleaners ensuring our public spaces are clean and sanitised, and shop workers having to continue operating at the risk of exposure to infection.

"While the labour movement continues its work to extend protection and uplifting of our essential workers' livelihoods, we want to deliver some personal warmth and support to them whenever we can for there is no such thing as too much care and recognition for these community heroes."

Ms Lilian Liong, Koufu Group's head of human resource, said about 99 per cent of the group's employees have been receiving at least $1,400 a month since the company implemented the new wage model. This means an increase in pay of 7 per cent to 8 per cent, she added.

In March this year, the Government announced that the PWM would be extended to cover up to 218,000 workers, including those from the waste management, retail and food services sectors.

At the National Day Rally on Aug 29, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the Government would accept the recommendations of the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers. The centrepiece is the expansion of the PWM to cover more than eight in 10 lower-wage local workers.