NWC urges pay hike for low-wage workers

by HRD02 Jun 2017
Low-wage workers can expect to see a $45 to $60 rise in their daily pay, should their employers adopt recommendations in the National Wages Council’s (NWC’s) annual guidelines released on Wednesday.  

The tripartite body recommended the “built-in” salary increase for those earning up to $1,200 a month – a rise from the $1,100 ceiling last year. An additional 40,700 employees are expected to benefit from the higher threshold, according to Ministry of Manpower (MOM) figures. This marks the second straight year for the NWC to recommend a ranged increase instead of a fixed amount.

The “greater flexibility” provided by the range has increased the adoption rate of the quantitative guidelines from 18% in 2015 to 21% in 2016, according to the Survey on Annual Wage Changes.

Employers can follow the lead of the government. In a statement released the same day, MOM said the government has accepted the NWC’s recommendations. “The Government endorses the NWC’s focus on deepening skills and transforming jobs to enhance productivity and stay future-ready,” said the ministry.

NWC’s recommendations have also drawn support from National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) among others, Channel News Asia reported.

“Though this may seem a challenging task, I believe that working together with our tripartite partners, the Labour Movement can play an important role in helping our businesses to transform and workers to deepen their skills, so as to achieve higher productivity and sustainable wage growth,” said NTUC Secretary General Chan Chun Sing in a statement.

This year’s pay hike range is lower than the $50 to $65 proposed last year. SNEF president Robert Yap said this helps more employers adopt the guidelines. “We want to give (employers) a more sustainable situation for them to jump in… When employers are concerned, we are not afraid to give increases to our employees but the question is can we keep on giving?” said Yap as quoted by Channel News Asia.

Among other things, the NWC also recommended that employers:
  • grant low-wage workers a built-in wage increase in the form of a dollar quantum and a percentage
  • grant a reasonable wage increase and/or one-off lump sum based on skills and productivity for low-wage workers earning above $1,200
  • tap on government programmes to implement age-friendly workplace practices and create easier, safer and smarter jobs for older workers
“Taking into consideration the uneven business conditions, and the ongoing transition of the economy, the NWC reaffirms the principle that wage increases will need to be sustainable and fair: built-in wage increases should be given in line with firms’ business prospects, while variable payments should reflect firms’ performance and workers’ contributions,” said the council.


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