The Workers’ Party Labour Day Message 2019

WP calls for more help for older PMETs

On this Labour Day, the Workers’ Party honours all workers in Singapore, including the over 1.2 million professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs). PMETs now make up more than half of our resident workforce. By 2030, two out of every three workers will be PMETs.

PMETs face a myriad of challenges: 76% of all locals retrenched last year were PMETs. Only 63% of the retrenched found work within six months. The situation was worse for older PMETs. Almost 68% of all retrenched workers were 40 and older.

At the same time, PMETs are facing renewed competition from mid-skilled foreign workers, with the number of foreign S Pass holders growing by 11,100 in 2018. This coincided with an overall increase in the foreign workforce, reversing a decline in 2017.

Underemployment is also a challenge for at least 3.3% of the workforce, with the numbers rising to 4.3% if measures other than time-based unemployment are taken into account. Underemployed persons experience low morale, insecurity about their job and income, and difficulties in meeting daily expenses.

The Workers’ Party calls for more help for all Singaporean workers, including older PMETs.

First, Singaporeans must be able to compete for jobs with foreigners on a level playing field. All Employment Pass and S Pass applicants should be subject to an Education Credential Assessment to ensure that their certificates are genuine. Enforcement of salary floors for EPs and SPs should be stringent.

Second, the retirement age should be abolished, so that productive seniors who wish to continue working can do so without hindrance. The government should also explore how businesses, especially SMEs, can be further incentivised to hire older Singaporean workers.

Third, retrenched and unemployed workers need stronger social safety nets. This will provide a cushion for those who are unable to switch industries immediately, or are simply unable to catch up despite their best efforts. WP has proposed in Parliament a Redundancy Insurance scheme which will reduce the financial pressure on workers who are retrenched while they look for new work, minimise insecurity and worry among employed Singaporeans, and complement existing programmes for re-training and re-employment of workers.

And fourth, underemployment should not be measured by counting only part-timers who wish to work more hours or full time. It should also factor in skills and income mismatches with workers’ qualifications. This will help policymakers better understand how underemployment is affecting different segments of society, to better formulate policy solutions.

The economic disruptions that many workers face are not unique to Singapore. Governments around the world ignore workers’ grievances at their peril. The Workers’ Party wants Singapore to remain an open, global, trading nation, but one which fiercely protects the welfare of Singaporean workers, including PMETs. This is the only way to foster the social solidarity that is so vital for a strong and united Singapore.

The Workers’ Party
1 May 2019