Reflection on Labour Day

Labour was a big thing in the early part of the last century. The workers traded their muscles for food. They included the peasants and farmers and the industrial workers. Today we are talking about skilled workers and not much of labourers. Labourers are nearly non existent in the Singapore context. There are labourers, but mostly foreigners. This is a great achievement that we may find Labour Day a misnomer. Our workers have progressed up the skilled and economic ladder and are much more better off than in the past. In 1965, the average wages of a worker was more like $400 pm. Today it is like $800 pm with skilled workers getting $1,500 before overtime. A higher skilled worker could get $2,000 and the supervisory level about $3,000. A clerical staff was earning $400 and now $1,800. All these is good on paper if we don't factor in inflation. Are our workers that much better off than their predecessors? The biggest portion of their income has gone to housing and transportation, the basic needs. A 3 rm flat used to cost $7k and now $200k, or 30 times what it used to be. Their salary is at best 4 or 5 times what it was before. But overall, living conditions and quality of life have taken leaps and bounds for the better. The upper end of the labour curve, or the brain labour, the managers and professionals too took a bigger leap forward. Their gains are more significant, from $3k to $10k/$100k, depending on how high up one is. This professional and senior managerial group enjoys the biggest improvement in their income and lifestyle befitting that of a first world talented manpower. We have many who are very comfortable in where they are and with income equivalent to those in America and European countries. But in certain areas there are some misgivings. Our top echelon of talents is somehow still found wanting. For so many years, many of our establishments still found our locals not up to mark and the necessity to fill those positions by foreigners is still a norm. It is quite sad to see the top notch local financial professionals still unable to fit the shoes of our large local corporations. Are they duds or really that incompetent? Quite an embarrassing thought really. Why are we still unable to find our local boys and girls good enough to fill CEO positions and why are foreigners found to be better? Perhaps we should continue to celebrate Labour Day for as long as our local professionals are still regarded as labour, in a way, until the need to replace them with foreign talents is no longer needed. I wonder when that day will come or will never come. In the meantime we continue to build our local corporations into giants competing in the international arena and find suitable foreigners to run them. I wonder how our corporations could have grown to those size on local talents' contribution but then found that they have outgrown our local talents and needing foreign talents to pick up from that level. And the foreign talents rode in like knights in shining armour to teach our local boys and girls how to run the corporations that they have started and built up. They are have skills of gods acquired from heaven.


Anonymous said...

In some countries, foreign investors MUST appoint indigenous(local) to head the companies. Most foreign companies, may i say, like the idea. They usually get those 'well connected' with the rulers and put them there for obvious reasons.

Likewise, some countries prefer to appoint foreigners(FT) to head the organizations and again for obvious reasons. Many of these foreigner heads of corporations also know they stand to gain much whether they competently fulfill their duties or not. When the corporations they run performed well, big bonuses and other rewards are for their takings. If something somewhere go wrong, they 'take the responsibility' and exonerate the real culprit(s). Of course, again they are rewarded as forms of punishments. Severance pays of Million(s) SIN$ are the norm just for a few years appointment.

When these Chief left the jobs, they absorbed and carried away all the wrongs which may not be directly of their doings. And here is where their greatest sins come in, standing in as sacrifial lambs for those guilty.

Come to think of it, religions and laws are superfluous so long as man(kind) circumvent them with no qualm, conscience and guilt.

Above is a digression, do forgive this labourer(of a life time) for the rant.

Labour Day is a misnomer in some countries as the working class is the most exploited and down upon. So, nothing to celebrate ones own fate that gets slighted and despised.


Anonymous said...

We may appear to have better living conditions and quality of life, but most of us is, in fact, are living on borrowed money because of the housing loan/car loan/education loan etc.

If houses, cars, education and healthcare cost just keep spiraling upwards, will there come a day of awakening or reckoning? It must stop somewhere! Or do we just continue borrowing bigger and bigger amounts, like America?

I am curious.

Anonymous said...

Maybe our labourers will then be able to command the highest salary in the world to keep up with the high cost of living. This is called turn the apple cart upside down, or upturn the apple cart.

We can do it. Our labour is being led by the best and they should rub off a little from the best. When a 3 rm flat is $1m, be assured that our labourers will still be able to afford them with their ever higher pay.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

It will be a matter of time when our CBF workers will also be the highest paid in the world. Yesterday they just got a 1% pay hike.