Singapore—Progress Singapore Party (PSP) politician Brad Bowyer has weighed in on the minimum wage issue, which has been much in the news lately, with Leader of the Opposition and Workers’ Party head Pritam Singh calling it “not just a moral imperative” and his fellow party members echoing the call for it for the country’s lowest wage earners.
This has pitted them against stalwarts from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) Members of Parliament, including Koh Poh Koon (Tampines GRC) and Edward Chia (Holland–Bukit Timah GRC).
Mr Chia, who owns food-and-beverage chain Timbre has also come under fire from different people, especially after replying in the negative when Mr Pritam asked him if he is willing to pay S$1,300 monthly to the 32,000 lower wage earners in Singapore. The PAP MP also said that as a business owner, he is answerable to the whole company and not to a particular type of employee and that a business should be profitable and scalable.
In a Facebook post, Mr Chia further clarified his position, writing that “Wage increases without corresponding better skills puts our worker at a higher risk,” as it would burden businesses and put jobs at risk, increase costs for consumers without adding value, which he called “a slippery slope towards lower competitiveness.”
Mr Bowyer took exception to Mr Chia’s position that upskilling is necessary for increasing wages in Singapore, calling it, “Another way the PAP misdirects the conversation.”
Another way the PAP misdirects the conversation.The pay for a basic job that needs doing in Singapore should have…
He added that wages for basic employment in Singapore should have nothing to do with other factors.
“There should be a minimum level of pay to survive in the place it needs doing… .. Period.”
Noting that Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world, Mr Bowyer further argued that the needed workforce cannot be treated “like they were living in mud huts with little costs to live there.”
Jobs that are necessary and cannot be automated should “rightly” be paid a living wage, accepting this as “the basic cost/profit equation for the person who needs to do it.”
“Until we enforce a minimum level living wage we will continue with poor productivity, growing wealth gaps, corporate welfare policies through the back door like workfare and continued breakdown of civil society and the attendant ever-increasing costs to stop it falling apart altogether,”
Mr Bowyer added, noting that “A basic living wage gives stability, security, self-reliance, self-respect and a base from which those who want to or are able to can build from while removing the negative burdens of poverty from the nation.”
Not having a minimum wage would be “far more costly” to the country as a whole than having it.
He ended his post by calling for “unselfish leadership and a broader and more holistic thinking on this issue and no more narrow private profit driven narratives or excuses more reminiscent of the workhouses and similar of the industrial revolution.”
“Singapore is a country not a company and deserves better,” he wrote. “It’s 2020 not 1820!” —/TISG
Read also: PAP’s Edward Chia: Wage increases without corresponding skills puts workers at a higher risk
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