Last Sat (17 Oct), irritated by the term “folksy” used by Workers’ Party (WP) MP Jamus Lim in Parliament to describe union leaders, the former president of the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees’ Union (BATU), Nasordin B. Mohd Hashim, wrote to Straits Times Forum to complain against Assoc Prof Lim.
He claimed that the Assoc Prof had belittled union leaders like him (‘Ex-union leader unhappy with WP Jamus Lim use of the word ‘folksy’ in Parliament‘). Assoc Prof Lim was speaking on behalf of his party proposing that a universal minimum wage of $1,300 be implemented in Singapore soon.
Nasordin’s union BATU is, of course, affiliated to NTUC headed by former PAP Cabinet Minister as well as former SAF Chief of Defence Force, Ng Chee Meng. Nasordin himself even received Comrade of Labour (Star) award at the NTUC May Day Awards back in 2018 for his good service.
In his letter to ST, Nasordin said that he had previously represented BATU to make recommendations for the government’s Progressive Wage Model (PWM) in the tripartite clusters for cleaners and also for landscape workers.
“It is regretful that the Workers’ Party’s Jamus Lim made comments in Parliament on Thursday not just belittling our hard work all these years, but also seemingly putting down the intricate issues involved in outsourced industries such as cleaning, landscape and lift maintenance,” he added.
“Batu continued to lobby for improvements to the existing mandatory PWM sectors and, at the same time, pushed for expansion to other sectors as well.”
He further stated that all unionists “care deeply for our workers” and said, “We wish for them to achieve more in their jobs, giving them the dignity of earning a decent living and the pride of career progression. The PWM allows for that.”
Minimum wages for cleaning, security and landscape sectors range from $1,236 to $1,450
PWM was actually first mooted by the government back in 2012, starting with the cleaners. Essentially the model sets a floor salary or minimum wage and lays out a wage ladder for workers to progress in their career for a particular sector.
To ensure compliance, companies in that sector will be licensed. Failure to implement PWM like not implementing a floor salary can result in companies operating in that sector losing their licence.
PWM first took effect in the cleaning sector in 2014 and subsequently expanded to landscape sector in Jun 2016 and security sector in Sep 2016.
According to MOM website, the current “minimum wages” for general cleaning workers in the office & commercial, F&B establishment and conservancy sub-sectors of the cleaning sector are $1,236, $1,236 and $1,442 respectively.
For the security sector, the minimum wage for a general security officer is $1,250 while that of a general landscape worker is set at $1,450 for the landscape sector. So, in general, the minimum wages for these 3 sectors range from $1,236 to $1,450 currently.
In any case, it can be seen that despite union leaders like Nasordin, who “care deeply for our workers” and push for PWM expansion to other sectors earnestly, they managed only to establish PWM with its associated minimum wage in 3 industry sectors in the last 8 years, since 2012 when PWM was first mooted.
It has been observed from the Singapore Standard Industrial Classification manual that there are at least dozens of of sectors in Singapore. At the rate Nasordin and his tripartite partners go about implementing their PWM model of 3 sectors per 8 years, by the time minimum wages are implemented in all industry sectors in Singapore, the workers would have been retired or dead by then.