RETAIL WORKERS’ REAL INCOME HAS FALLEN BY 27% OVER PAST 15 YEARS

Yet another retail industry manpower initiative

I refer to the article “Manpower plan launched for retail sector with job redesign in focus” (Channel NewsAsia, Dec 10).

It states that “Retailers are also facing challenges in terms of business costs and manpower constraints, he said.

Under the Retail SMP, retailers will get support from the Government in enhancing jobs and business models. More training opportunities will also be provided for retail employees and students.

The plan covers four key initiatives, starting with a business remodelling and job redesign study to identify skills and training needs for retail jobs of the future.

SPRING and WDA will also collaborate with retailers and trade unions to address future manpower needs, and to develop the Skills Framework for Retail to map skills needs with career progression pathways.”

The key issue is “low pay”?

This latest initiative as well as those in recent years may arguably continue to give insufficient focus to the fundamental issue in the retail industry – the low pay.

Basic salary $1,265 in 2014?

According to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) wages benchmarking tool – the monthly basic median salary of shop sales assistants is only $1,265.

After the typical CPF employee contribution of 20 per cent – the net basic salary may only be about $1,012 ($1,265 less 20 per cent).

Moreover, the low pay is also typically associated with shift work and weekends’ work.

Basic salary $1,175 in 1999?

In 1999, the monthly basic median salary of  service and sales workers was $1,175.

Only 7.7% nominal pay increase last 15 years?

So, does it mean that the increase was only about 7.7 per cent ($1,265 divided by $1,175) over the last 15 years?

Real pay down (-27%) last 15 years?

Since inflation was about 35 per cent from 1999 (CPI 73.814) to 2014 (CPI 99.984) – does it mean that the real increase was about minus 27.3 per cent or about minus 1.6 per cent per annum?

To what extent has our liberal foreign labour policies and the huge influx of foreign workers contributed to the low pay of these workers?

 

 

Leong Sze Hian

A.S.S. Contributor

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