Following the Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh’s call for implementing “a universal minimum wage with $1300 as a base” on Monday (12 October), there was an abundance of mixed reactions from netizens on social media, with some of them supporting the call while others questioning whether it works for all people.
In a Facebook post, Mr Singh pointed out that the Government’s current ‘Minimum Wage Plus’ sectoral approach which also covers productivity and career progression within specific sectors has taken “too long” to implement.
“It has been eight years, with three sectors covered. This is far too long for Singaporeans who work outside these sectors. How long are they to wait? This was a question my colleague Leon Perera asked in Parliament to which no reply was forthcoming,” he wrote on his post.
Calling for the implementation of minimum wage, Mr Singh said, “A universal Minimum Wage for the Singaporean worker is not just a moral imperative, it is an act of national solidarity, one that is even more relevant in today’s economic environment.”
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Aljunied GRC also posited that instead of solely relying on the Minimum Wage Plus sectoral approach to assist low-wage Singaporean earners, it would be better for the minimum wage task force to “consider a parallel endeavour that implements a universal minimum wage with $1300 as a base” alongside the sectoral approach so as to not leave behind citizens who are employed outside of the specific sectors.
“In a recent BT article I shared, many business leaders have already indicated that they would support a reasonably considered national minimum wage. I hope employers, businesses, unions and the Government consider this issue as one that goes far beyond dollars and cents, but as a fundamental basis of our national solidarity,” he noted.
Many netizens supported Mr Singh’s call for the universal minimum wage while pointing out that the current wage model “does not work” as it was only “presented to look as good but in actual fact many people are not getting what they should be getting”.
The netizens also lamented that the cost of living have “went up many folds” nowadays and will continue to rise, yet when it comes to cut cost, the affected people will be the low-end workers.
“So, is it meaning or why so difficult to increase wages. What is $1,300/month in today term? There is no meaning at all compare to today cost of living,” a netizen wrote.
A few netizens also criticised that “the Government is spending too much time” on deciding whether should implement the minimum wage.
They felt that in compare with the adjustments at the top level “which will be made and implemented swiftly”, any adjustments at the lower rung will have “many rounds of debates” and “there will be barriers and layers of criteria for consideration to qualify”.
Several netizens expressed that it is time to implement minimum wage as “some who works full time but still could not bring home the minimum amount for their basic expenses”. The netizens also opined that there should be no discrimination on the jobs wage as everyone is doing the same decent job.
On the other hand, a handful of netizens pointed out that the implementation of minimum wage will result in a higher unemployment rate and “this is never a popular policy” – which “only take care of the underprivileged” that may account for “a few percentile of Singapore’s population”.
Other netizens also noted that the implementation of minimum wage “is not feasible” at this time given that many employers and households are under strain during COVID-19 pandemic.