This was a speech in Parliament on 11 March 2010 by MP for Hougang, Low Thia Khiangwp.sg.during the Committee of Supply debate, on the budget for the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Read other Workers’ Party speeches and statements at
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.
Sir, given the current educational profile of the employees in this group, a targeted approach is needed to improve their productivity and income. The Economic Strategies Committee (ESC) proposed to introduce a broad-based incentive scheme to encourage employers to send their workers for training, and develop structured programmes to train and place low-wage workers in better jobs. I would like to know what are the detail mechanisms and new initiatives to work in line with ESC’s recommendations and to raise the productivity of this group of workers.
Next, with the likely trend of short term contract and part-time workers increasing in the future, I would like to know whether MOM will develop strategies to include such employees in the productivity upgrading process.