Monday, June 25, 2012

Say What, Swee Say?

ST Photo: Desmond Lui for Straits Times

According to Labour Chief Lim Swee Say, by 2015, 10,000 cleaners will earn at least $1,000 a month.   

So why has the pay of cleaners been so miserable for so long. In fact, some are earning less that they did in previous years. My gut feel is there are just too much outsourcing, too much sub-contracting and too many middlemen getting a cut of the pay that is actually due to the cleaners. We celebrate Labour Day but physical labour and dignity of cleaners and security guards is not worth respecting, unlike the labour of plastic surgeons and ministers. Of course, surgeons and ministers deserve higher pay but cleaners need a decent minmum wage to survive too.

Allowing cheaper foreign workers who are willing to accept lower pay also cause cleaners' pay to stagnate and even decrease.

Gone are the days when organisations and ministries employed their own housekeeping (cleaning) staff.   Due to cost cutting and operating with cost efficiency, I doubt any ministry now employs cleaners directly. They are outsourced or contracted to cleaning contractors who may even subcontract the contract to a subcontractor. 

"Mr Lim also noted that the minimum wages in Europe today are so high that many young graduates are unable to enter the job market. European countries are already talking about lowering the minimum wages, he said, without referring to any specific country."

I find it tiring for politicians to use selective comparison to make a point to serve one's argument. To serve one's purpose. The above scare mongering so as not to pay minimum wage is pretty sickening.

I do not know what minimum wage Lim Swee Say is referring to but to state "that the minimum wages in Europe today are so high that many young graduates are unable to enter the job market" is ridiculously funny!

I may be wrong but my perception of minimum wage is minimum wage for the lowest paid in the industries. That is, minimum wage of maybe cleaners, security guards, hawker's assistants or coffeeshop assistants and others whose pay is hardly enough to sustain a decent livelihood of providing 3 cheap meals a day and a roof over one's head. 

How on earth a Labour Chief and a Minister in the PM's Office would think that young graduates would want to enter the job market as a cleaner or security guard or a hawker's assistant is beyond me. Is Lim Swee Say blind to the fact that local cleaners comprises mainly of old uncles and aunties who cannot find a better way to make a living?

Thus, the above statement is another Swee Say Special, not unlike what he said below:

PAP rulers were so concern about ministers pay that they had to have a commission of inquiry to decide how many millions to pay the various PAP ministers. To add insult to injury, The Ministers Salary Review Commission headed by Gerard Ee had to pay Mercer $860,000.00 to add substance to the inquiry [Link]

Isn't it funny that PAP ministers paid millions by taxpayers can be justified by COI whereas the poorest paid cleaners do not deserve a decent minimum wage for survival? Or is it because many young graduates will be unable to enter the job market if we increase the pay of the lowest paid?

How in hell can PAP ministers justify and defend their million dollars salaries with COI and demean the labour of the poor with crap like this is sinful!  

If this is not puke inducing, I do not know what is.

What do you think?



At June 25, 2012 at 9:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somehow I feel sad and sorry for this man. When his time is up, I wonder if his CPF statement will still make him happy.

I do hope all politicians can stop to think what they would like to be remembered for in history - someone who has a genuine heart to serve the people who voted for them or one who needs to be paid handsomely to serve.

At June 25, 2012 at 10:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if any MNC would hire someone who can't even pronounce so many simple words like "should", "sugar", etc., much less pay him millions year after year after.........

At June 25, 2012 at 11:14 PM , Anonymous Jim Leow said...

Has the honorable minister considered a targetted minumum wage scheme? There are ways to prevent the abuse of the minumum wage. He should consult Prof LCY and show some interest.

The laziness on the part of ministers to work at some kind of minumum wage and their total adherence to the price mechanism is a reflection on their unwillingess to serve the worker .

Without the worker there is no "succesful" singaporean economy.

At June 26, 2012 at 12:00 AM , Anonymous How Leow said...

they always talk about the productivity of the workers in relation to minumum wage. How about the productivity of ministers in finding ways to improve the life of citizens thru targetted minumum wages.

At June 26, 2012 at 12:48 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes, the ministers are experts on minimum wage - they are masters at deciding their own 'minimum' wages!!!

At June 26, 2012 at 1:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now what. Only the minsters can be guaranteed a million dollars pay check as minimum wage through COI ,whereas lesser mortals are guaranteed with zero pay check with no minimum wage.

What do you think ?

At June 26, 2012 at 1:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There must be a reason why he is called Lim Swee Say. Don't fall his SWEEt SAY aka LIM's SWEEt SAY. Extraordinarily Sweet sweet for himself and ministars but bitterly sour for lesser mortals.

Again, what do you think ?

At June 26, 2012 at 1:40 AM , Anonymous Amused said...

If it's all about "free" market, we will have sweatshops and child labor everywhere. By hiding behind "free" market to justify NO minimum wage is totally self-serving and deplorable! Show me the list of 1st world countries without a minimum wage, dear Minister!

At June 26, 2012 at 7:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do hope he will put in more effort in what he says. The no sense he says it's truly insulting the intelligence of fellow singaporeans. For goodness sake, if u can't walk the talk at least put in some effort to talk the talk professionally. Time to sack his speech writer, hopefully, it's not him I am referring to.

What do u think ?

At June 26, 2012 at 7:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Words of advice fom your Master:
"If you can't think because you can't chew, try a banana"

At June 26, 2012 at 8:04 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, vote him out comes GE2016, or better still write to him or boycott events that he is attending.

What are we waiting for.

At June 26, 2012 at 8:59 AM , Anonymous JeffGoh said...

...By 2015 cleaners will earn $1000 p.m...That is another 2 years down the road. this is more MSMHSP - meesiammaihumspeak.

Do these MIW ever look out into the streets from their ivory tower.

At June 26, 2012 at 11:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have high hope when he became a minister. But looking at what he does, he is no different from other ministers. Sigh!

At June 26, 2012 at 11:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have high hope when he became a minister. But looking at what he does, he is no different from other ministers. Sigh!

At June 26, 2012 at 12:49 PM , Blogger oldhorse42 said...

I like your article It has bite and kick as well.

At June 26, 2012 at 1:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In all these years since he became the labour chief, he never visited us to talk and find out about stagnant pay and working conditions. What had he done for us as a union chief when he didn't even bother to talk to us workers on the ground? What sort of leather is he? "I don't know what to say!"

At June 26, 2012 at 2:08 PM , Blogger patriot said...

Please do not look for decency with folks without conscience.

Becos You will be badly disappointed.

At June 26, 2012 at 2:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am inclined to think Lee Jr has been humouring sporeans with LimSweeSay as union chief and Lee Jr is not done yet, not until he makes SweeSay our president.

ps: I have learnt not to discount the 60% who are capable of going along with it.

At June 26, 2012 at 3:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We too need to be careful what we wish for. Higher pay for cleaners would mean higher prices at food courts and kopi tiam. But I believe our Singapore Society is ready to pay this higher price for a min wage for these workers.

At June 26, 2012 at 3:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Food prices not determine by labour alone hor. When the price of roti prata increase was it due to more expensive labour? When your cup of kopi increase price was it because of higher labour cost? When the price of hawker centre food increase was it because of labour cost? The hawker centre was renovated and rent of stall went up! Who charges the rent?

At June 26, 2012 at 3:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sack both of them.

At June 26, 2012 at 3:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

His job is to speak up for employer lah

At June 26, 2012 at 5:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Sim Sway telling us selective shit...or some other kind of shit...

I will like to ask the repetitive questions when MIW is clueless or worse...

So Shit Sway..."WHAT DO YOU THINK!".

At June 26, 2012 at 6:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is an embarrassment to Singapore.

Thank goodness the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is headquatered in Geneva.. there they dont understand English very well, so whatever he SAY.. no one understands him

I wonder what his children think of him. Does he watch videos of himself?

No wonder employers don't give a damn about workers! look at how we are represented!!

At June 26, 2012 at 10:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I wonder what his children think of him. Does he watch videos of himself?"

Of course he watch video of himself otherwise how can he still maintain his standard of comedian act and improve his nonsensical skill further ? It is not easy to be comedian especially a million one pay by taxmoney these day due to people finding them not funny anymore in the internet age. PAP comedy is a joke at expense of lesser mortals.

At June 27, 2012 at 4:02 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eons ago cleaners were earning $1000 before they opened the floodgates for foreign talents and now he is going to claim credit for nominal wage increase when inflation is pushing it up. Now you understand how our super talents earn their keep?

At June 27, 2012 at 9:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha. That's hilarious!! Thanks!

At June 28, 2012 at 9:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will take 3 years for the Cleaners to achieve a minimum pay of $1,000 from the $600-$800 pay scale (which have been dropping for many years).

It took less than 12 months, plus a $860,000 consultancy fee plus a useless committee to decide and justified their million dollars salaries.

History will never forget such "justification".

At July 29, 2012 at 10:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Hi thanks for this blog. I will just to give you this perspective of worker's levy which we pay for the foreign labour. I have no issues with the foreign labour but I have an issues with the so call foreign talent - check our Shittybank's HR director, customer service director, call centre center, training director..... all expats taking at least $250,000 per annum.... why do we need FT's for this jobs !!! If the Singaporeans have these jobs, their father, mothers do not need to be cleaners to start with....

Do you know how much GOVT collects for foreign worker's levy a month ? where does this money go to I wonder ? what if this levy paid goes directly to the low wage worker ?! Simple maths !!

Thank you for maintaining this blog.


At August 21, 2012 at 6:06 AM , Anonymous Jonathan said...

Nice post which the days when organisations and ministries employed their own housekeeping staff. Due to cost cutting and operating with cost efficiency, I doubt any ministry now employs cleaners directly. They are outsourced or contracted to cleaning contractors who may even subcontract the contract to a subcontractor. Thanks a lot for posting this article.

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