He said: “For me, the key issue and challenge facing Singapore and Singaporeans is really the misperception, misconception and the need for public education”.
Dr Gomez highlighted 4 misconceptions surrounding minimum wage:
1. Minimum wage does not affect me as I am earning beyond the minimum wage
2. Will Minimum Wage bring down my salary?
3. People will not work hard if there is a Minimum Wage
4. “S10,000 also not enough” for some people
“Minimum wage is a tool that we can use to demonstrate concern, as well as to ensure that people at the lower end of society, at least have enough money to live a dignified life”, he added.
Calling it an “important tool” in the public arsenal, Dr James Gomez noted that Minimum Wage is a tool that can be coupled with training opportunities.
A minimum wage has been the subject of much debate in the country since the WP featured it as one of the key policy proposals in its manifesto for this year’s General Election.
During a debate against Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, Mr Edward Chia, MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, asked the Workers’ Party (WP) MPs if they recognise that there is a possibility low-wage workers may lose their jobs with technology being increasingly adopted by businesses.
Mr Pritam said that none of the WP MPs made any remark about automation and in turn asked whether Mr Chia is willing to pay the 32,000 low-wage workers S$1,300 a month.
Mr Chia, who is the managing director for F&B company Timbre Group, jumped in to say that businesses need to stay competitive and to do so, it has to be coupled with an increase in productivity.
Mr Pritam then asked: “I would like to ask the member in return, is he agreeable to pay the … 32,000 workers S$1,300 as a business employer. Is he prepared to do that? I hope he is.”
Mr Chia replied that a business owner’s responsibilities are to his entire company and not to the employees of a specific sector. That would include finding ways to be sustainable and to expand to provide more jobs for Singaporeans.
“A minimum wage may be more negative for a business. We need to look at it as a holistic approach, helping businesses upskill their employees, helping businesses grow their business,” he said. /TISG