Okay, This Proves That Bosses in S’pore Aren’t so Giam (Stingy) Afterall

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Now, let’s face it: it’s really money no enough in Singapore with the cost of living going up and having to fight it out in the job market and gloomy economy.

Making things two times jialat jialat is having a giam (aka stingy) boss who also doesn’t want to up your pay or give you a bonus also makes it super sian.  -.-

Image: mememaker.net

If you haven’t heard, mid this week was when the National Wages Council (NWC) released their guidelines. There’re soooo many pages… but the most important part is the money part, right? This is the excerpt:

Last year, instead of a fixed absolute quantum of wage increase, the NWC recommended a built-in wage increase ranging between $50 and $65 for workers earning a basic monthly wage of up to $1,100. The greater flexibility provided by the range has increased the adoption rate of the quantitative guidelines from 18% in 2015 to 21% in 2016.5 With the labour market outlook and business conditions remaining uneven across sectors, the NWC sees merit in continuing to set a range for the recommended wage increases.

As such, the NWC recommends that:

  1. Employers grant low-wage workers a built-in wage increase in the form of a dollar quantum and a percentage, to give the low-wage workers a higher percentage built-in wage increase;
  2. Employers grant a built-in wage increase of $45 to $60 for low-wage workers earning a basic monthly wage of up to $1,200; and
  3. Employers grant a reasonable wage increase and/or one-off lump sum based on skills and productivity for low-wage workers earning above $1,200.


In simple engrish, it means that the NWC doesn’t fix a specific amount of wage increase but instead gives employers a range. If you have a giam boss then sorry la… you may only get $45. This year, NWC also raised the qualifying basic wage threshold from $1,100 to $1,200 so another 40,700 workers can qualify for wage increases.

But if you think about it, the fact that we have to have these guidelines in place makes us #losehopeinhumanity a bit. People already so low-wage, boss cannot be more zhi dong (in boss speak = take initiative) to increase pay meh? Must need the Tripartite Partners show hand and force them to give pay increases. Workers welfare should be bosses’ responsibility mah!

Image: quickmeme.com


Although the take up rate this year is 21%, which is still on the low side, it has increased from 18.5% last year and is on the uptrend. Unionised companies has had the best number – 50% of them abided by the guidelines and gave at least $50 increment last year!

In fact, 25% of unionized companies gave increments of over $65! Got hope! Bosses in Singapore not so giam after all.

Learning point: if you want better chances for a pay increment – get unionized!

MOM surveyed 4,800 companies with 10 or more workers and found that the more profitable a company, the more likely it was to increase the pay of its low-wage workers. About 50% of profitable companies that fared well in their business in 2016 granted pay rises compared to only 25% of loss-making companies.

Learning point: do your best to help your boss earn money so boss can give you bonus! 😉

Government and Labour Movement are taking the lead. In the gahmen’s statement, they promised to take the lead to “best source” and encourage service providers they work with to adopt the wage recommendations. Melvin Yong from the National Transport Workers’ Union also highlighted that this the quantitative wage guideline is just one of the tools to improve the lot of low-wage workers, along with the Progressive Wage Model and Workfare.

Learning point: tripartite partners (MOM x NTUC x SNEF) lai liao, they got your back!  

In the words of Assistant Secretary-General Zainal Sapari from NTUC, “the challenge now is to get more employers, especially those in the outsourced sectors with many low wage workers, to adopt the recommendations”.

While we hope bosses will be more zhi dong by taking care of their workers’ welfare and giving big bonuses, at least the NWC guidelines offer some hope to low wage workers by making their bosses feel bad if they don’t increase pay. 

So to all bosses out there: we’re glad we can now prove that you’re not so giam, after all!

Featured Image: marketwatch.com

This article was first published on goodyfeed.com in collaboration with the Labour Movement of Singapore so that more bosses can be less giam and give more bonus.