Posted by Sinapan Samydorai under Editorial on 29 April 2005

Many on the bottom of the employment table are the aged, primary and lower secondary educated, who need a job urgently, are discriminated and do not have equal opportunity to find a decent job. Moreover, women, the disabled and migrant workers are all discriminated. Is this decent in a developed country like Singapore?


The Singapore employment situation is said to be improving. Yet many on the bottom of the employment table are the aged, primary and lower secondary educated, who need a job urgently.

Without a minimum wage our aged and lower educated workers cannot compete fairly with the migrant workers nor gain a job with a decent working conditions. Instead the workers both local and foreign suffer from bad working conditions, low wages, worse living conditions and unpaid utility bills.

Is this decent in a developed country like Singapore?

There are about 1 million Singaporeans with GCE 'O' levels or lower, ageing, and prone to unemployment. They do not have fair and equal opportunity in terms of employment. Even if they work harder and long hours for low pay, it will not save their jobs. They live in fear of being jobless any moment and they are the mercy of their employers.

The origin of May Day is traced backed to 1880's struggle for eight-hour work-day. Unfortunately, today many Singaporeans are forced to work 12-hours shift, as the labour law permits. They have to work long hours to secure their jobs and increase their take home pay - there is no minimum wage in Signapore.

This May Day 2005, Think Centre makes the following recommendations to the Singapore government, employers, trade unions, on behalf of all workers:

1. To stop all forms of discrimination towards all workers especially, aged, lower educated workers, women workers, disabled workers and migrant workers

2. To do more to provide economic, pyschological and socio-cultural reliefs to victims and families of the unemployed and victims of workplace accidents and their families

4. To adopt policies to secure decent work in conditions and ensure salary are paid, the living conditions for Migrant workers are decent

5. To provide more support for the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises and their coverage by a social security system, as well as continue to focus on education, skill training and health-care to improve the ability of workers to be employable.

5. To update deficient labour legislation by removing or amending outdated policies such as:

5.1. Stronger labour law to protect against discrimination of older workers, gender, race and religion, physical disabilities and foreign domestic workers;

5.2. Greater support for retrenched and unemployed workers through a national insurance scheme, as well as to provide a reasonable living with access to housing, healthcare, re-training and other essentials for a decent living.

5.3 Amend the 1973-policy which requires prior permission for work permit holders to marry locals. Instead those with relevant skills and who have worked in Singapore for 4 years should be free to marry locals;

Think Centre hereby wishes fellow Singaporeans and migrant workers a happy May Day.

For more information:

Sinapan Samydorai
Think Centre

Sources and Relevant Links:

ICFTU ONLINE ICFTU May Day Manifesto 2005 1/5/2005

ICFTU ONLINE Millions of Workers Plan May Day Celebrations Worldwide 29/4/2005.

Think Centre LABOUR DAY MESSAGE 2004 30 April 2004

Think Centre Labour Day Message 2003 30 April 2003

Think Centre Labour Day Message 2002 01 May 2002

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