Youth and mid-career unemployment major concerns at alternative labour movement

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By Kumaran Pillai

In a forum organised by Transitioning.org, the alternative labour movement platform, eight speakers joined Mr Gilbert Goh in raising labour issues in Singapore.

The speakers called for greater accountability and stricter measures for errant employers who default on salary and CPF contribution.

Mr Tan Kin Lian called for the abolishment of GST, which he reckons is the root cause of economic problems in Singapore.

Opposition member Mr Lim Tean

said that the rent seeking economy has extracted too much wealth from Singaporeans, leaving some segments, especially the lower end extremely impoverished.

Speaking at the forum, I brought up the issue of the ill-conceived nature of tripartite arrangement between the union-employers-government as an appropriation of workers’ rights in Singapore.

Responding to one of the question raised by the audience on why CPF members can’t withdraw their funds, I told them that the lassie faire nature of our CPF system where only the members and employers contribute to our retirement fund, needs to be revised to keep up with the times.

I also called for a greater accountability and transparency of our national reserves.

We need to create a level-playing field for our local labour force, a point that was highlighted by Mr Tan Kin Lian and myself. Mr Tan further explained that Employment Pass holders do not pay levy or do National Service and hence they are the preferred choice by employers in Singapore.

I further added to Mr. Tan’s point that the recent appointment of former general Neo Kian Hong as the chief of SMRT begs the question of how our elite are given a preferential treatment in Singapore.

Mid-Career PMETs who turn to Grab when employment opportunities are limited do not have any safety net to fall on. I highlighted a case where a Grab drive made zero dollars after compensating his passenger who suffered a whiplash which riding in his car.

As more and more PMETs turn to the gig economy, we need to build more safeguards for our citizens.

The forum ended with a call to review CPF policies and to have more safeguards for our local workforce.

Below is Tan Kin Lian’s speech at the forum

Kumaran Pillai is the publisher of TISG. You can reach him at kumaran@theindependent.sg