Summary

许宝琨认为政府在意识形态上并不反对最低工资,但渐进工资模式效果更好

Oct 18, 2020 | 🚀 Fathership

全国职工总会副秘书长兼卫生部高级政务部长许宝琨周四(10月15日)表示,政府在意识形态上并不反对最低工资,但采取单一、一刀切的最低工资标准存在风险。

许宝琨的演讲针对工人党成员最近的言论,包括反对党领袖Pritam Singh,他呼吁政府考虑在新加坡实施1300新元的统一最低工资标准。

绝大多数低收入工人的工资高于拟议的最低工资水平

许宝琨在演讲中称赞“渐进工资模式”(PWM)在过去10年里帮助至少20%的工人大幅提高了工资,同时缓解了新加坡收入不平等的状况。

“PWM提高了近8万名清洁工、保安和园林工人的工资。近年来,他们的工资增加了30%,而工作岗位并没有减少。”许宝琨说。

因此,“绝大多数”低薪工人的收入都在1300新元以上,这也是工人党(WP)提出的最低工资标准,许宝琨说。

许宝琨引用人力部的统计数字指出,收入低于1300新元的工人人数还有约10万。他补充说,其中有四分之一是自由职业者,因此他们无论如何也不会从最低工资中受益。

在工作福利补助对工资低于2300新元的工人补足收入后,收入低于1300新元的工人约有3.2万人,约占新加坡本地劳动力的1.7%。

“所以,工人党计划通过提出1300新元的最低工资标准来实现的目标,我们已经通过渐进工资模式、工作福利补贴和其他政策措施实现了。”许宝琨说。

在意识形态上不反对最低工资

他说,政府在提高低收入工人工资方面已经取得了“长足进步”,尽管他承认这仍然是“未完成的任务”。

许宝琨还澄清说,政府“在意识形态上并不反对”最低工资。

他说,渐进工资模式中工资的第一阶梯是部门最低工资,而且高级部长Tharman Shanmugaratnam此前将渐进工资模式称为“最低工资加”,即最低工资,加上通过提高技能来增加工资的阶梯。

许宝琨强调,制定“某种形式的最低工资”并不是新的想法,政府与工人党提高低薪工人收入的目标一致,尽管他们在实现这一目标的方法上可能有所不同。

难以为所有部门制定合适的最低工资标准

许宝琨认为,统一最低工资标准的问题是很难确定所有部门的适当基数。

例如,如果标准设定太低,那么许多部门工人的利益就会受到限制,这就违背了最低工资的目的。

他举例说,在强制渐进工资模式下,如今镇议会清洁工的月薪已达1,422新元,比提议的1,300新元最低工资还要高,甚至还不算工人的额外补贴,如就业入息补助金和加班费。

另一方面,如果最低工资设定太高,那么企业,特别是中小型企业(SMEs)可能无法支付工人的工资。

这可能导致企业将成本转嫁给消费者,或者减少雇用教育程度或技能较低的工人。在最坏情况下,这可能导致企业倒闭。

他补充道,虽然大家都想帮助低收入工人,但制定最低工资必须有一个基础,使其反映每个部门的“现实情况”,以保持最低工资的可持续性,避免意外成本。

最低工资的潜在政治问题

设立单一的一刀切最低工资也是有风险的,因为这会导致“工资设定不可避免地政治化”,许宝琨说道。

他解释说,如果拟定的1,300新元最低工资获得通过,政治组织可能会利用最低工资作为争取支持的一种方式,承诺稳步提高民众的最低工资,但这可能是不可持续的。

许宝琨说,这种“政治拍卖”迹象在其他国家已经发生,它将使新加坡的低技术工人价值下降,并且对较小企业不利。

“在政治竞争中,一个政党很可能会过来说1500新元反映了更高的‘道德要求’。然而另一个政党会说1,300新元很好,1,500新元更好,但1,700新元是更‘神圣的’道德要求。这可能会成为一场政治拍卖,”许宝琨说。

另一方面,由于渐进工资模式采用的是“部门、三方建立共识的方式”,即政府与每个行业的不同利益相关者接触,并达成共识,因此出现政治拍卖的可能性较小,许宝琨解释道。

改善低薪工人的生活和生计是一项庞大的工作——我们人民行动党同志以及工人运动中的兄弟姐妹们在过去60年里一直在倡导这项工作。这绝不是一项简单的任务。它是实实在在的、艰苦的工作。

基于数十年来的经验,我们一致认为,以行业支持、三方合作的形式来推动工作,才能带来有意义的改变。渐进工资模式(PWM)就是这样做的——在保持商业竞争力的同时,持续改善低薪工人的收入。工资与技能提升挂钩,确保工人有机会在工作中取得更大收获。我们正在做更多的工作来扩展渐进工资模式。

为所有行业制定适当的单一工资并不容易。而在确定这种一刀切的工资时,我们要冒着政治拍卖的风险,这种拍卖最终可能会使低技术工人竞争力减弱,使企业,特别是中小企业无法运转。我们是否也在追求将这一基本工资适用于外籍家庭佣工等外籍工人的“道德要求”?

今天在议会,我和议员同事会继续介绍我们的案例,来说明渐进工资模式是一个更好的模式。撇开争论,我们的工作还在继续,因为我们要扩展渐进工资模式,并探索使更多低薪工人受益的补充方法—这正好伴随着我们共同努力帮助自己走出这场经济衰退。

更多信息点击 https://bit.ly/2SVEEWp

上图来自Gov.sg/YouTube.


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This commentator thinks MCI ad should not have featured poor Malays

May 12, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership
A Hari Raya advertisement by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) was 'cancelled' by certain netizens online for depicting lower income Malays according to reality.

"Message for Syawal", a two-and-a-half-minute video published last month (Apr 30) captures moments in the life of a low-income Malay family living in a rental flat.

Storyline


Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"

The video, which is peppered with Malay proverbs, shows the family moving out of their rental flat to a new home several years later where they celebrate Hari Raya.

The father of the family works as a mover while the mother is a housewife.

Their young son, Syawal, skips school to earn extra income for his family before a teacher flags his absence from school to his parents.

The mother in the video later decides to return to work to alleviate her family’s financial difficulties while the father gets a new job.


Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"



Why some netizens are outraged

The video sparked backlash online, with some viewers saying that it contained stereotypes about the Malay community.

The stereotypes:
  • The father works as a mover - commonly perceived to be a low-income job
  • The mother is jobless
  • The son plays truant
  • The family lives in a rental flat for low-income earners

Commentator implied that poor Malays shouldn't be portrayed in public to prevent stereotypes


Pictured: Screenshot from Homeground Asia video

A video commentary by The Homeground Asia went further by criticizing how the video propagates the narrative that Malays are poor and lazy, and that the ministry should have created a video that is more relatable to both the less fortunate and the more affluent Malays.

Adi Rahman, one of the interviewees in the video went further by making sweeping assumptions that the ministry lacked cultural intelligence and did not consult the community on the narrative.

Ironically, in talking about inclusivity, Adi implied that the realities of poor Malays should not be shown in public.

For example, his rationale suggested that the video contained characters (the mover, jobless mother and the son who skips school) that contribute to the problem of other races seeing the Malays in a stereotypical and reductive light.

In other words, show the good stuff but not the reality.

Adi even accused the ministry for not consulting the Malays in the vetting of the video narrative.

His accusations were without merit, however, when the Ministry said in a statement (Apr 30) that Malay-Muslim viewers - presumably a focus group - had seen the video prior to its release, and perceived the story to be heart-warming, although some expressed reservations.


Pictured: Adi Rahman - one of the commentators in Homeground Asia video



Stereotyping or masking reality?

The ministry said last month (Apr 30) the video was meant to show "a family’s journey of resilience in facing challenging circumstances and how mutual support and encouragement could nurture the process”.

Other netizens felt it was an overreaction and that low-income families shouldn't be dehumanized in a way that they are removed from the conversation. They felt that the video was a call-to-action for those from the underprivileged to strive for a better life through hard work and seeking help that's already available.

The only missed opportunity in the MCI video was perhaps the suggestion that Malays in low income families living in a rental flat could not celebrate Hari Raya unless they get a flat on their own.

But of course, like Homeground Asia, that is also a sweeping assumption.