Straits Times: Do locals really benefit from new jobs, WP asks

JOB creation in Singapore hit a record high last year, but the Workers’ Party (WP) yesterday questioned whether Singaporeans “truly benefited”.

In its May Day message, the opposition party noted that of the 236,600 new jobs created last year, 144,500 went to foreigners.

“Singaporeans will be none the better off, even if more jobs are created, when more than 60 per cent of the jobs created go to foreigners,” the WP declared, quoting figures released by the Manpower Ministry in January.

Urging a more “detailed analysis” of the figures, the WP suggested that a portion of the new jobs created could have been part-time contract positions.

“Could it be that more Singaporeans are holding contractual part-time work positions, whereas foreigners might be benefiting from the full-time positions created?” it asked.

If this was the case, some Singaporeans could be disadvantaged by “less than ideal employment terms”, it added.

The WP’s statement, signed by its organising secretary Yaw Shin Leong, also asserted that what it called the “top-down tripartite collaboration amongst the Government, employers and a pro-government labour union” was “a sure recipe for potential compromises for the Singaporean worker”.

In its statement, the WP also criticised Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Boon Heng for remarks he made last month.

Mr Lim had told unionists at a forum about his encounter with a Singaporean coffee shop worker concerned about losing her job to a younger worker – one selling beer – from China.

He told her the foreigner’s presence helped draw in customers and indeed save the woman’s job.

“According to Mr Lim’s logic, is he conceding that the PAP has created an economic model in which Singaporeans must now be dependent on foreign workers to retain our jobs?” the WP asked.

The WP also repeated its call for the Goods and Services Tax to be cut by 2 percentage points, and remain at 5 per cent for a year.

Noting that NTUC had initiated a food voucher programme to help low-wage workers, it said the Government could do more on its part.

“This is not to suggest that our Government should subsidise food prices across the board, but they are definitely capable of giving more help,” said the WP.

“The Workers’ Party encourages fellow Singaporeans to hold our heads high and not to lose heart,” it added.

ZAKIR HUSSAIN

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