Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 04/18/2014 18:12 | By Channel NewsAsia

NWC wage guidelines expected by end-May

NWC wage guidelines expected by end-May

NWC wage guidelines expected by end-May

SINGAPORE: By end-May, the National Wages Council (NWC) is expected to release wage-related guidelines for the year ahead.

From now till then, three meetings comprising government, business and union representatives will take place to set the agenda.

Members of the public also have until 25 April to share their views with the NWC on what could be included in the annual wage recommendations.

The recommendations set the tone for how companies in Singapore should reward their workers.

Factors like economic performance, the global outlook, labour market conditions and productivity are but a few issues accounted for when wage-related guidelines were released previously.

These considerations remain as the NWC sets the agenda for 2014/2015.

Typically, the desire is for workers to see real wage increase, without hurting the bottom line of businesses and affecting the country's economic performance too much.

DBS Bank's senior economist Irvin Seah said: "Wages have continued to gallop ahead of productivity. This has been a concern. It will continue to, essentially, erode profit margins, because at the end of the day, per unit cost is rising because of that, unless we're able to improve productivity."

The aim, therefore, is to strike a balance between cost concerns and the impetus to reward workers better.

The 2013/2014 NWC recommendations recognised the need for wages to be in line with productivity growth.

Guidelines called for firms to share productivity gains fairly with workers and asked companies to give built-in wage increases for staff, taking into account business performance and prospects.

The Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) has suggested that besides setting an overall agenda for the 2014/2015 guidelines, more attention be paid to different situations faced by different sectors.

SHRI president, Erman Tan, said: "We need to have a more segmented (approach) that reflect more refined analysis of where Singapore industries are heading to. Maybe we can consider construction, services, manufacturing, or even financial sectors."

The SHRI also believes that the system for setting wage guidelines can be made more responsive, by having half-yearly or even quarterly reviews, for example. This is meant to allow the guidelines to adapt to changing economic circumstances.

- AFP/ir

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