Most Rapid Cost Of Living Rise In Recent History, Purchasing Power Of Workers’ Wages Eroded: WP
As Labour Day is upon us, the Workers’ Party (WP) has turned their thoughts to Singaporean workers.
The opposition party has warned that wage earners face a “more bumpy ride ahead”.
This is amid the historic increase in the cost of living that we’re experiencing right now, they added.
S’pore’s macroeconomic situation is potentially worsening: Pritam
In the WP’s May Day message, sent to MS News and also posted on the WP Facebook page, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh touched upon two matters he felt would have an impact on Singaporean workers.
One of them is the current macroeconomic situation in Singapore.
It’s “potentially worsening”, he said, which would spell a “more bumpy ride ahead” for Singaporean wage earners.
Cost of living increase erodes workers’ purchasing power
Unless they’ve been living under a rock, every Singaporean would have found that prices for almost everything have gone up and up.
The WP Secretary-General pointed to the situation “as one of the most rapid cost of living rises in recent history”.
This erodes the purchasing power of workers’ wages, he said.
Worse still, he also noted that headline inflation for 2023 is predicted to “come in higher” at 5.5-6.5%, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
This is reflected in how the prices of things like transport and property are increasing, as well as the effect of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike to 8%.
Our gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2023, on the other hand, is expected to be slower than that of last year’s 3.6%, MAS said in their semi-annual report on the Singapore economy on 26 Apr.
It should grow from 0.5-2.5%.
AI tech may add to pressure on workers
Another development that will have an impact on workers is generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies like ChatGPT, Mr Pritam said.
These can produce human-like content and thus may add to the pressure on workers, especially knowledge workers.
That’s because there’s a chance the proliferation of AI can cause the loss of jobs, while there’s no guarantee they will create new jobs to replace them.
As Singapore aspires to be a Smart Nation, we will definitely be looking to adopt AI in more facets of our life, the Aljunied MP felt.
Rather than threaten jobs, we could use it to raise worker productivity and pay and help SMEs grow and thrive, he maintained, asking,
Are we doing enough to position our workers to benefit from AI and similar innovations, rather than becoming its victims?
Pritam calls for better worker protection
No matter how workers’ employment is threatened, Mr Pritam called for better protection for all workers.
He also reiterated the need for a redundancy insurance scheme, i.e. protection for those who lost jobs, as his party believes it’ll ease their immediate financial pressure and automatically stabilise the economy.
This would be through sustained consumer spending and mortgage payments until workers find new employment, he said.
He noted that the WP called for this scheme during the Budget 2023 debate and published a policy paper on it in 2016.
On 17 Apr, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said in Parliament that the Government may introduce “unemployment support” for retrenched workers, he pointed out, urging them to implement a redundancy insurance scheme.
More work to do for Singapore
Finally, Mr Pritam said there’s “much more” we can do to provide better job security and opportunities for workers.
Wishing Singaporean workers a Happy Labour Day, he said the WP will continue to present responsible policy proposals in Parliament.
Do you agree that Singapore workers will be facing hard times ahead? Do share your opinions in the comments.
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Featured image adapted from Pritam Singh on Facebook and MS News.
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