Updated: 05/31/2014 01:40

NWC proposes another $60 pay rise for low wage workers earning less than $1,000 a month

NWC proposes another $60 pay rise for low wage workers earning less than $1,000 a month

For the third year in a row - the National Wages Council has focused the attention of its annual wage guidelines on low wage workers.

In its recommendations released today, it called for a built-in wage increase of $60 for low wage workers - if their basic monthly pay is up to $1,000 a month. 

As for those earning above $1,000, the NWC is asking for a direct wage adjustment, or an one-off lump sum payment based on their skills and productivity. 

Council Chairman, Professor Lim Pin on the rationale for this. 

"Those who are earning less than a thousand dollars, have been given a fairly significant increase the last couple of years. Some of them have just crossed the thousand dollar threshold, they will not be eligible for subsequent "special treatment". So the Council feel that (this) group should be given some wage increase or a lump sum out of a variable wage component." 

Last year, the Council recommended a similar $60 pay increase, and the year before that, $50. 

It says 8 in 10 private companies either took up the recommendation last year, or they have plans to do so. 

And this was a "substantial increase" from the 6 in 10 that did in 2012. 

Professor Lim had this advice for those who may have difficulty adopting the proposals. 

"Some companies, particularly the SMEs, may find it challenging to meet these recommendations. These companies should earnestly consider how to tap on the Government's assistant schemes to improve productivity and bottom line. So that employers can also benefit from sustainable wage increases." 

As for the rest of the workers, the NWC is urging companies to share productivity gains fairly with them. 

However, it acknowledges that any wage increase must be in line with prevailing economic and labour market conditions.

Otherwise, the increase would be unsustainable and detrimental to Singapore's economic competitiveness.

The recommendations cover the period from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.

The government has accepted the NWC's recommendations. 

It adds that it also supports the NWC's recommendation for employers and unions to look into appropriate measures to boost employees' ability to pay for their Medishield Life premiums.

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