ILO warms to NTUC’s labour ways

Dear Mr Lim,

I refer to the 13 Oct 2010 Straits Times report of your arguments against the minimum wage law.

You said our turnaround is proof that we should stick to the status quo and eschew the minimum wage law. However, our turnaround doesn’t mean that other ways will not lead to a turnaround. Our turnaround hasn’t changed the fact that many of the lowest wages continue to suffer depressed wages.

You said our labour practices should serve long term interests and that we should do what is right for Singapore. But there are many examples of policies that were implemented for the long term interests of Singapore but that which turned out to be wrong for Singapore. ‘Stop-at-two’, ‘electronics-only’, ‘grow-at-all-costs’ are examples of such policies.

You said globalisation of jobs can’t be prevented. That is not entirely true. It is true only for manufacturing jobs but it is not true for local service jobs. Can a cashier job at NTUC be globalised to China? Can a waitering job be globalised to China? Thus, even though Singapore is one of the most export oriented economies, there is a sizeable labour force participating in the local service industry that does not lend itself to the full brunt of globalisation.

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