Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament today (3 Mar) that NEA does not have an age limit when it comes to re-employing its daily-rated workers.

He said that NEA will continue to re-employ the daily-rated workers beyond 62 years old as long as they are fit to work and have shown satisfactory work performance and good conduct.

At present, NEA employs 622 daily-rated workers working as cleaners and vector control staff. Almost 50% of them are 62 years old and above.

Meanwhile, Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Heng Chee How wants to create “ageless jobs and evergreen workers”.

He told Parliament today that investing in training and updating mature workers is the surest way to make best use of the nation’s total potential.

He noted that research has shown that mature workers are far less likely to switch jobs.

“Our stark reality is our demography, that is our small population and one that is rapidly ageing,” he said. “So it is in our own national interest to continue to encourage and facilitate a higher labour force participation rate, so that more people may earn income over more working years to provide better for retirement.”

“We certainly don’t want to see a growing pool of unemployed citizens, many of whom are older, just so that those who remain employed can enjoy a better life. At the same time, we also don’t want to see a growing workforce that risks getting stuck in real wage stagnation or decline,” he said.

“So those two things we don’t want to see and so the only viable way forward for us to improve both the employment rate and real wages so as to enhance value-add faster than the workforce growth rate.”

Work till one drops dead

However, blogger Lucky Tan, who wrote on his blog some time ago, criticised the PAP government’s policy of wanting to get Singaporeans to “work forever” [Link]:

A few weeks ago, I met a friend who retired after a successful career. He now spends his time with his wife who was retrenched a year ago. The couple have 2 children and are looking forward to having grand children. He told me that retirement is the best part of his life which was “quite stressful” when he was climbing the corporate ladder.

He told me he finds those articles that criticise retirement by calling retirees “time wasters”, “idlers” and “useless” very insulting because he feels they are directed at him asking him to give up the best part of his life.

The real tragedy is so many Singaporeans who have worked hard all their lives are forced to continue working when they are aged employed in menial jobs for very low pay. The PAP govt is trying its best to deliver this “work until you die” future to ordinary Singaporeans by asking you to be “better, faster, cheaper”…… and “work forever”….

Cabby James Lim related an incident when a fellow cabby literally work himself to death [Link]:

Eight taxi buddies and I attended Ah Kow’s funeral wake at the void deck of his 3 room flat in Jurong East. Ah Kow was a poor taxi driver who died of a heart attack a day earlier. He was 62, had no siblings and his parents died many years ago. As it was 3am when we arrived after our driving work, the wake was deserted. But Ah Kow had many friends who must had attended his wake earlier in the evening.

The simple coffin was placed on two wooden stood two feet above the ground and a recent photograph of Ah Kow was placed at the head of the coffin which was not sealed during the wake. As a timid person, I didn’t dare to have a last look at him inside his coffin. I’m sure Ah Kow would understand and forgive me.

Foods, fruits, two paper “servants”, an alter for burning of incense and two lighted white candles were placed infront of the coffin. We lighted incense, bowed as a sign of respect to the family and made a donation of a few hundred dollars to help the family defray the costs of the funeral.The donation money was a collection from all his taxi buddies in Jurong Central coffee shop. Each gave between $20 – $30.

James said that life as a cabby is a daily struggle to place three meals on the table, paying household and medical bills and keeping the roof above his head.

“With a 30 years HDB mortgage, children schooling, PUB bills, expensive medicine for chronic illness, etc..etc…and no much help from the authorities, most Singaporean like taxi drivers had to work without retirement till they drop dead. period! I think the only consolation is seeing the children growing up, doing well in studies and hoping they have a good job and a brighter future than themselves,” he added.

It’s not known if Mr Heng meant creating ageless jobs is to get Singaporeans to “work forever” so as to encourage and facilitate a higher labour force participation rate.

What do you think?

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