If by paying a little bit more can help uplift lower-wage workers, will you do it a not ah?

If by paying a little bit more can help uplift lower-wage workers, will you do it a not ah?

Everyone likes to talk about how we should help our lower-wage workers. So not too long ago, the Gahmen announced that they are agreeable to the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC) when they recommend that the cleaners get a pay increment since they worked so hard and in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic period.

Cleaners’ wages will increase every year from 2023, thanks to Progressive Wage Model

Later, it was also announced that the wages for security officers and lift and escalator technicians and even more recently, the landscape maintenance workers, will also be increased under the Progressive Wage Model (PWM). Jin happy.

In case you are not familiar with what this PWM is hor, PWM is a system introduced by NTUC in 2012 to lift the wages of low-income earners. It was first made mandatory for the cleaning sector in 2015, then later for the security and landscape sector in 2016, and lift and escalator maintenance workers in 2018.

But you see hor, we Singaporeans sibei wu kam cheng one (got feelings). When we see old people still working in hawker centers or anywhere else in their old age, we will feel very unjust for them.

We will hiam that the pay too low lah, the work too tough. So even when all these PWM announcements say there will be an increment in their wages, we will still feel like “not enough”, “aiya so little, might as well don’t give”.

We scold the towkays for exploiting these lower-wage workers, who are often not very highly educated. We also will scold the Gahmen for not doing more to help them.

We feel like heroes for standing up for these lower-wage workers, but we forgot that in order for these towkays to pay a higher salary to the lower-wage workers, the money must come from somewhere.

So, where should the money come from leh?

From Towkays

Because logic mah – the towkays are the ones paying the workers every month leh.

But hor let’s not forget that towkays set up their businesses to earn money leh, not to do charity one. At the end of the day, they also want to make profit and not 亏本生意 (to sustain any loss in business). Bo ko leng pay the workers a higher salary liao but the business still like last time like that with no improvement, or worse still, become lugi, tio bo?

So then the pressure will also fall onto the workers themselves liao.

The workers

When the workers are paid more, they also must prove that they are more productive than before, and must show the towkays that they are worth being paid higher salary lah. They must either go and learn new skills which can help them produce good output at work, or aiya just find ways to become more capable than before loh.

You and Me, the consumers

No need to think too long or too hard also will know that if towkays are to pay their workers more, consumers like you and I one must also be willing to pay a bit more for our goods and services and accept that some of this cost will be passed to consumers.

BUT if you think and agree that the lower-wage workers deserved to be paid a higher salary, then we cannot complain if one day our teh peng becomes $0.50 more, or chicken rice is a bit more expensive than before loh.

Gahmen and the tripartite partners

Of course, the Gahmen and the tripartite partners cannot sit there and do nothing!

They must be the ones that provide assistance and incentive to towkays and convince the towkays that if they want to increase productivity which eventually leads to a flourishing business, they must also be willing to invest in their workers and send them for upskilling and training.

They also must the police to catch those bad and naughty towkays who anyhowly bully their workers and discriminate against Singaporeans.

Aiya, anyway long story short is: If we want to uplift these lower-wage workers, then all of us as a society, must accept that we will need to fork out a bit more money from our wallets lor. But if we think that these lower-wage workers deserve to be paid more and we want to show our appreciation for their contribution and that we value their work, then WHY NOT right???

More good news for the lower-wage workers!

During the National Day Rally 2021, PM Lee said in his speech that better support will be given to the lower-wage workers.

Specifically, the PWM will be extended to more sectors, starting with retail and food services and waste management sectors in 2022.

To further strengthen the Singaporean core in the workforce and to ensure that local workers are better protected, companies that are hiring foreign workers will be mandated to pay ALL their local workers a lowest qualifying salary (LQS).

The Progressive Wage (PW) Mark

You know like how you see Michelin Sticker you know that the food confirm must be sibei good one? This Progressive Wage (PW) Mark is the same lor.

This PWM Mark will be given to businesses who voluntarily pay their workers progressive wages so that consumers will know that such companies are responsible towkays who pay all their workers decent wages. Like that you go spend money also will happy.

For a start, PM lee said that the public sector will take the lead first and will purchase only from such businesses.


If you’d like to contribute your story to us, drop us an email at [email protected] and we’ll review it. We read each submission that comes to us within two weeks of receiving it.

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