Low Thia Khiang: Give part-time and contract workers have good training opportunities

This was a speech in Parliament on 11 March 2010 by MP for Hougang, Low Thia Khiang, during the Committee of Supply debate, on the budget for the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Read other Workers’ Party speeches and statements at wp.sg.

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As at June 2009, there were 87,400 resident employees on short term contracts of less than three months and 156,200 residents on part-time employment. About half of these employees are in the older age group and the majority of them have lower educational qualifications, with a gross monthly income of below $1,000.

I am of the view that the number in this category of employees would increase over time because companies want flexible manpower and to be able to respond faster to changing demand and cost variations as the business environment changes. Secondly, as our society matures with an increasing number of ageing employees, more people may prefer such a mode of employment, as seniors may not want to work full time.

Contract and part-time workers may not necessary be low wage and low productivity. Some studies have shown that part-time workers can be as productive as full-time workers and companies employing part timers do not necessary suffer low productivity. I understand that in the Netherlands, in which a relatively large share of the workforce works part-time, achieves high labour productivity. Hence, I believe that there is much room for improvement in productivity and income of our contract and part-time workers.

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Low productivity not our workers’ fault: WP’s Low

Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang has slammed the PAP government for seemingly suggesting that Singaporean workers have only themselves to blame for their low incomes, because of their low productivity and skills. He said it was easy to blame our local workforce for low productivity when it was the Government which opened the floodgates to foreign workers.

Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang has slammed the PAP government for seemingly suggesting that Singaporean workers have only themselves to blame for their low incomes, because of their low productivity and skills. He said it was easy to blame our local workforce for low productivity when it was the Government which opened the floodgates to foreign workers.

Low was speaking Parliament on Tuesday in response to the Finance Minister’s Budget 2010 speech last week.

The Opposition leader pointed out that manual workers like cleaners and garbage collectors in developed economies are paid so much more than their counterparts in Singapore, attributing this to those countries’ more compassionate and effective policies to ensure that workers at the bottom of the economic ladder enjoy a decent and dignified life. Referring to the Government’s latest productivity drive, which is to grow productivity by 2 to 3 per cent each year over the next decade, Low wondered if low wage workers had to wait another 10 years for the wage increases which they had not seen in the last 10 years.

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