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Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower & Senior Minister of State, National Development, to Parliamentary Question on Encouraging Companies to Adopt Recommended Pay Increment for Low-wage Workers

Ms Mary Liew: To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower what are the plans of the Ministry to improve the adoption of a $60 built-in wage increase in 2013/14 for workers earning less than $1,000 as recommended recently by the National Wage Council.

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin:

  1. The Ministry has been working closely with tripartite partners as well as the rest of Government to extend the adoption of the NWC Guidelines. From January to December last year, we saw 3 in 10 employers give at least $50 built-in wage increases to workers earning a monthly basic salary of $1,000 and below. There were also 12.5% employers who gave built-in wage increases to low wage workers, although the amount was less than $50. As last year was the first time the NWC had made a specific quantitative recommendation for low wage workers, this was a good start. Certainly, the NWC has helped to generate greater awareness on the part of employers to do more for their low wage workers.
  2. This year, we hope to see more employers follow the NWC’s recommendation for this group of workers. With concerted tripartite efforts, I am confident we can sustain the momentum generated. The employer and union groups represented on the NWC will continue to reach out to their members to encourage their members to adopt the NWC wage guidelines especially for low wage workers. The NWC Guidelines which have been gazetted under the Employment Act will also form the basis for wage negotiations in the unionised sector as well as set the benchmark for wage adjustments in the non-unionised sector.
  3. The Government, as the largest employer, has announced that all Division IV and III civil servants, who typically perform operational support functions and clerical duties, will receive an additional wage increase on top of their annual increment in 2013. Division IV civil servants will receive an additional wage increase of $70 per month while Division III civil servants, who typically earn more than $1,200 per month, will receive an additional wage increase of $40 per month.
  4. The Government will also play its part as a service buyer. The Ministry of Finance has asked Government agencies to include, in relevant Government tenders for services, a clear statement that tenderers should adhere to the NWC’s recommendations on wage increment for their workers and to factor such costs into their bid price. In addition, the Ministry of Finance is looking into incorporating, as a tender evaluation criterion, the tenderers’ track record as employers with good employment practices. Particular attention will be paid to the procurement of services that employ low-wage workers. This is to clearly signal to contractors that the Government will lean in favour of contractors with good employment practices, including paying decent wages for workers.