Madam X works at a restaurant outlet we frequent for lunch. Each time we engage in small talk, she brings up the fact that, despite 20 years of service, she hasn't had a pay rise in the last 10 years. That's when we adroitly change topic. We didn't have the heart to tell her management may not take to her remarks kindly, that she was in a highly vulnerable position. The rest of the serving staff were mostly foreigners, youngsters half her age, economic refugees qualified under the "foreign talent" policies. Nurturing every Singaporean in the workplace for better jobs and better lives? Tell that to Madam X.
Even the PRCs have wised up to the truth. Zhang Mingpu, 23, is heading back where a better paying job with an employment agency is awaiting him in home town Zhenzhou city. He swears his first time working here will also be the last, citing 10 hour workdays, 6 days a week for his $1,200 - that's about $5 an hour, what our own Singaporean students are getting for flipping burgers to help dad pay the tuition bills. Adjusted for inflation, wages in China grew about 8.5 percent last year. According to TIME magazine (18 June 2012), the average wage for a shop floor worker in the manufacturing industry jumped 30% in 2011 alone. Which is better than what the Singapore government is prepared to do for our own lower income group. No wonder they shredded Lim Chong Yah's proposal for pay of low income workers to be raised by 50 per cent over the next 3 years.