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Give pay rise of at least $60 to low earners: NWC

This is among recommendations proposed by the National Wages Council (NWC) as it released pay guidelines for the year ahead.

SINGAPORE: A pay increase of at least $60 should be given to low earners drawing up to $1,000 monthly, says a high-level committee of government officials, unionists and employers.

This is among recommendations proposed by the National Wages Council (NWC) as it released pay guidelines for the year ahead.

The government has accepted the recommendations and endorsed the NWC's focus, which also called for raising productivity in a tight labour market.

The NWC's yearly recommendations set the tone for how companies in Singapore should reward their workers.

Factors like economic performance, global outlook, labour market conditions and productivity are some of the issues considered when its guidelines are released.

The NWC has consistently called for firms to help low earners, asking them to grant those drawing up to $1,000 monthly at least a $50 pay hike in 2012.

This was raised to $60 in 2013 and 2014.

NWC chairman, Professor Lim Pin, said: "We should build on the momentum generated last two years, and give the same amount - $60. And then after that, we'll continue to monitor the situation and proceed according to what (happens) - see how things develop."

In sectors with low-wage workers where outsourcing is widespread, the NWC has asked for their recommendations to be brought into service contracts.

More companies have heeded the call to give low earners a built-in wage increase.

In 2013, 80 per cent of firms surveyed by the government did so.

That's an increase over the 60 per cent seen a year earlier.

For those who draw slightly over $1,000 monthly and are among Singapore's bottom 20th percentile of income-earners, the NWC has suggested that firms give a "reasonable" wage increase or lump-sum payment, based on workers' skills and productivity.

Indeed, the NWC cautioned that any real wage increase should be in line with productivity growth over the long term.

It noted that Singapore's tight labour market means there will be continuing upward pressure on wages.

Mr Stephen Lee, president of Singapore National Employers Federation and a member of the NWC, said: "In the last three years, the productivity figures have lagged behind real wage increases.

"Therefore, I think it is paramount that companies should make special effort to raise productivity, so that the wage increase can be sustainable."

With Singapore set to introduce the universal medical coverage scheme MediShield Life, the NWC also suggested that firms adopt measures to boost their workers' ability to pay the premiums for coverage.

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