Lazy Government and Employers the Kink in Progressive Wage Model

The article below had been submitted by Dave


Why isn’t Lim Swee Say’s Progressive Wage Model working as well as it should?


Let me tell you why our lazy government and employers are standing in our way to higher salaries.


1. The government only legislates after a voluntary phase

Progressive Wage Model can be legislated anytime, but the government chose a timeframe to introduce and persuade employers to adopt this model voluntarily before legislation.

Cleaners had to wait 2 years for the Progressive Wage Model to be legislated for the cleaning industry before they could earn at least $1,000 a month.

Security officers have to wait another 2 years till 1 September 2016 in order to get a 30% pay increase from $800 to $1,100.

The only good thing is that some companies are voluntarily adopting the Progressive Wage Model even before it’s legislated. However I feel too many employers only adopt at the last minute before legislation.



Why is the government taking so long to legislate?


2. Everyone must agree to it then can legislate

Instead of a minimum wage, no…………. Singaporeans have to wait for government bodies and employers PER SECTOR to agree with Lim Swee Say’s Progressive Wage Model proposals.


The logic is that each sector has different dynamics and difficulties that need a targeted approach, which sectoral tripartite partners (e.g. NEA + cleaning companies + NTUC’s unions in cleaning sector) have to ALL agree on.



Guess which tripartite partner is the last one to agree to raise wages? (Clue: who pays our paychecks?)


3. Meant for all workers but depends on our employer

Lim Swee Say says his Progressive Wage Model is meant for all workers, but the reality is that whether we get it or not depends on whether our lazy employer applies this model in their HR practices.

Many of our lazy employers don’t want to bother especially in industries where cheap-sourcing is prevalent or where cheap foreign labour is available.




On the flip side, if some employers have a good HR, even PMEs are covered by the Progressive Wage Model (I’ve never heard of a minimum wage for PMEs before, can Singaporean PMEs have one too?)




4. Extremely dependent on raising skills, productivity and career responsibilities

The caveat of the Progressive Wage Model is that our wage increases are accompanied by raising our skills, productivity and career responsibilities.

A proactive worker will take the effort to improve wherever he can, however a large majority of us depend heavily on employers to send us for training, invest in productivity initiatives and develop career ladders for us to climb.

Again this is where we workers are subject to the whims of our lazy employers.

If we have a lousy employer, we probably have to wait for legislation for Progressive Wage Model to make them increase our pay, send us for training etc.



Which should come first? Productivity or wage increases?


5. Costs will still rise

One argument commonly propagated for Lim Swee Say’s Progressive Wage Model is that if a worker is paid more, part of his pay increase will be tempered by his higher productivity, and not be completely transferred downstream to the consumer as rising costs.

However Singapore’s productivity isn’t exactly in the best of shape, so expect costs to rise anyway.




This is one issue that minimum wage can’t solve either.


Who should be responsible for improving a worker’s productivity? The one who pays our wages la!



While the Progressive Wage Model does have its merits (such as improving our jobs and we can earn more than the minimum wage based on our capabilities), I feel many employers are way too slow in improving the workers’ productivity, skills and career prospects.

Although the government is legislating the Progressive Wage Model per sector (to push laggard employers to hurry up and invest in us workers), it’s too slow!!!

How long do we have to wait till we are finally covered by government legislation for Progressive Wage Model and lazy employers to wake up their idea???


Isn’t there a way our dear government and employers can move any faster so we get better pay and careers?








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