We are organising our 4th labour day indoor event on 1st May 4pm for the workers entitled “Jobs for Singaporeans first”.

Workers worldwide will be celebrating labour day ground-up and we hope to do it annually in Singapore on our own as well.

We have decided to remember our workers indoor instead of the usual outdoor place at speakers’ corner due to a very wet season this period.

We will be inviting employers, entrepreneurs, workers and the unemployed to grace the occasion and jobs will be offered on that day to those who are seeking for work opportunities.

Unemployment will be our core agenda for this year labour day event and we empathsize with those who have lost their jobs through retrenchment and downsizing.

There must be at least 5% of our population unemployed and for those above 50 years old, the figure should be higher. Fresh graduates are also finding it difficult to get jobs.

The annual average offical resident unemployment rate rose slightly from 2.8 per cent in 2015 to 3 per cent in 2016, the highest since 2010, according to the finalised figures from the Manpower of Ministry (MOM) released on Mar 15.

According to the release on Labour Market Developments in 2016, the increase was broad-based across most age and education groups, with larger increases among those aged 30 to 39 and 50 and over, as well as those with secondary and degree qualifications (source: Channelnewasia dated 15 March 2017).

Redundancies went up to 19,170 last year but lower than the recessional high of 23,430 in 2009. More worryingly,slightly less than half of residents, or 48 per cent, made redundant in 2016 re-entered employment, the lowest since 2010′s 53 per cent.

Competition for jobs from foreigners remain the main grouse of local PMETs and unfortunately we still hear of replacement of exisiting positions by incoming foreigners. Companies hiring mainly foreigners to fill in professional positions are rampantly heard especially in the finance and IT industries further depressing the unemployment woes of local PMETs.

Just last week, a whistleblower has written in complaining of a Indian majority workforce in QAssure which is a foreign Indian entity that specialises in acquiring businesses from Singaporean government enterprises. The writer has complained of a all-Indian majority workforce even though we have IT expertise available locally.

However, we heard recently of a ban on Indian IT specialists from the Singapore government citing contractual violation related to Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement (CECA). Talk of the government wanting Indian IT companies to consider our local talents first for employment warm our hearts though the fear is that we have let in too many over the past few years for the ban to have any viable effect on local unemployment.

According to the MOM foreign workforce figures, there are 192,300 Employment Pass (EP) approval ending Dec 2016 with a marginal increase of 187,900 over the past year. For the lower S Pass category, 179,700 approvals were granted compared to 178,600 the previous year.

There is a total foreign workforce of 1,393,000 as of Dec 2016 and the construction sector has the biggest workforce of 315,500.

Source: http://www.mom.gov.sg/documents-and-publications/foreign-workforce-numbers

We also wonder why the government did not freeze foreign hirings last year due to a deepening recession so that our local PMETs have better access to employment but have in fact allow companies to hire foreigners in increasing numbers who are probably in direct competition for jobs with our locals. The government’s surprising obstinate focus on allowing foreigners to work here to boost the population to the preferred 6.9m optimal population number has angered many of our own jobless professionals.

The 2-week jobs bank criterion is also a sham whereby employers can simply post the vacancies and wait for two weeks before deciding to hire a foreigner. We propose a waiting period of at least 2 months before a company can apply for a work permit to hire a foreigner to safeguard the interests of our local PMETs with all the relevant documents to prove that he has try to hire a local first but fail to get the proper candidate.

We however applaud the Australian government’s recent brave annoucement to temporarily halt the work-related 457 skilled visa to ease their own high unemployment numbers. The Australian unemployment rate rose to a 14-month high of 5.9% with the youth unemployment rate rising in February, from 12.3% in January to 13.3%.

There is a global recession going on right now and Singapore remains a haven for foreign professionals seeking employment as our local PMETs struggle to find jobs in our own country.

What is wrong with our government or are we so seriously mismatch in skills required for the available vacancies? The financial and IT sectors have long hired foreigners in the majority as they argued that they could not find suitable jobseekers from the local workforce for the past decade. We often heard of Indians from India filling up IT lucrative positions in banks and IT companies whereas the angmo will fill up six-figure positions in the finance sector.

Moreover, a lack of minimum wage has deepened the economic crisis here for the poor exaceberated by the recent numerous hike in utilitites eg water, power, town council among others.

Many of our needy families we assisted work hard and are not complacent but they are failed by the lack of minimum wage system that plagued the under-priviledged for many decades.

They have put in their fair share of diligent work but could not earn enough to match the escalating rising cost of living.

We urge the government to put in place a minimum wage so our poor can look forward to a better future.

Though we have the world’s highest GDP but we also have the world’s highest cost of living and ironically we are one of the only developed country without a minimum wage.

For this labour day event, we urge those who are able to attend to drop by at 809 Lavender Level 3 Mahota event hall to discuss all these important issues. The nearest MRT is Lavender.

Employers, entrepreneurs and the unemployed are invited to speak on all related labour issues. Please let us know if you want to air your views on that day so we can allocate a place for you. Jobs will also be offered by employers on that day.

RSVP is required through [email protected] as space is limited to 100 only.

Let us celebrate labour day together as workers!

Gilbert Goh

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