To add insult to injury, in his attempt to clarify himself, WP Jamus Lim said, “To be clear, my statement was about the beliefs held by some union leaders about the minimum wage, as cited by SMS Koh. While there is a role for opinion based on personal experience, policy should be formulated on the basis of data-driven empirical evidence. It is important not conflate the two, by using an opinion to refute a study.”
He thus repeated himself that union leaders did not work with data when it comes to the minimum wage. All they had were beliefs and an opinion based on personal experience with which to refute a study.
Union leader Karthikeyan: Jamus Lim knows nothing about workers and their worker representatives
Jamus is obviously ignorant about how a progressive wage model is negotiated to fruition. The model is industry-specific and takes into account the needs of the industry. His ignorance is why he does not understand that the PWM is superior to a minimum wage.
Take the Lift and Escalator Industry, the PWM takes into account the fact that the industry currently faces an ageing workforce with half of the lift technicians expected to retire within the next 10 to 15 years. Attracting Singapore residents into the industry is thus a top priority. The tripartitie group recognises that a strong core workforce in the lift industry will ensure that lifts are well-maintained in an increasingly built-up Singapore.
“Our leaders spend hours walking the ground, speaking with lift technicians, visiting worksites and even going on overseas learning journeys to glean best practices. After 20 months of careful deliberation and negotiations, the lift and escalator PWM was finalised. The whole process in formulating this PWM is not based on mere “folksy beliefs” – it is thoroughly negotiated based on hard data and a firm grasp of current workers’ issues,”
Lim Teck Chuan, General Secretary of Metal Industries Workers’ Union
wrote in a forum letter to Zaobao.
Here’s the letter reproduced:
“In discussing the issue of a minimum wage versus Progressive Wage Model (PWM) in Parliament, Dr Jamus Lim from The Workers’ Party described union leaders as relying on their “folksy wisdom and beliefs” to make decisions is akin to “a time in the 16th century when people believed that the sun revolved around the earth”.
This is insulting and implied that union leaders have not been careful in their consideration of minimum wage issues. We find his tone and choice of words disrespectful to thousands of union leaders.
As a member of the lift and escalator sectoral tripartite committee, Metal Industries Workers’ Union (MIWU) has been involved in discussions to raise wages of our lift technicians. Our leaders spend hours walking the ground, speaking with lift technicians, visiting worksites and even going on overseas learning journeys to glean best practices. After 20 months of careful deliberation and negotiations, the lift and escalator PWM was finalised. The whole process in formulating this PWM is not based on mere “folksy beliefs” – it is thoroughly negotiated based on hard data and a firm grasp of current workers’ issues. [Emphasis added]
Ultimately the proof in the pudding is in the eating. With the PWM, our entry-level lift technicians will earn minimally $1850 per month – how would the proposed minimum wage of $1,300 even be meaningful? A Minimum Wage is too simplistic and does not reflect the realities of this industry sector. [Emphasis added]
Our union leaders may not all be as learned like Associate Professor (Dr) Jamus Lim, and many of us rose through the ranks as blue-collar workers. But they live and breathe worker issues, and it is for this reason that their opinions are sought and valued by the Government and business leaders in policymaking. The knowledge that they bring is not based on folklore, but on years of experience advocating for workers with grit and gumption. It is disappointing and ironic to see the Workers’ Party demeaning the efforts of worker representatives.
Lim Teck Chuan
Metal Industries Workers’ Union