The Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) recent
announcement to require employers in Singapore to first consider
hiring Singaporeans before taking on foreigners is right in spirit.
However, the details in the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) is
disappointing because it will not change anything.
The MOM's press release here,
stated that "MOM expects all firms to consider Singaporeans fairly
for jobs, based on merit. All firms are strongly encouraged to
advertise their job vacancies and must ensure that jobs advertised
are open to Singaporeans.”
Words like "expects”, "consider”
and "strongly encourage” mean that employers are not mandated by
law to consider hiring Singaporeans first. This is made clear by
Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-jin who confirmed that "The
framework is not about ‘Hire Singaporeans First.'”
Employers can still go through the
motion of putting up advertisements and interviewing Singaporeans
for the job but, at the end of the day, can still hire a foreigner base
solely on wage considerations.
As the name of the Framework says, all they need to do is to "consider” hiring a Singaporean worker.
This is different from the SDP's
Singaporeans First Policy which states that businesses in Singapore
must hire a Singaporean if one is qualified and available for the
job. Only when locals cannot be found are employers allowed to hire
The SDP's plan is backed by our
TalentTrack Scheme which requires all foreigners wishing to work in
Singapore to apply and furnish details of their (qualifications,
skills, experience, etc). The applicants are then ranked on a
points-based system and only those who meet the cut-off point-level will
go into a pool from which employers can hire.
The SDP's plan is also supported by our minimum wage policy and fair wage policy which will extend to foreign workers. The biggest
attraction for businesses in Singapore to hire foreigners is
that they can pay foreigners much less. The SDP will push for wage parity legislation between Singaporean and non-Singaporean workers.
Another glaring problem with the FCF is
that it applies to businesses hiring workers with Employment Passes,
that is, workers drawing a salary of more than $3,300. It also
exempts employees with salaries of $12,000 and more.
This means that the majority of
Singaporeans who do not fall within this salary range is not
protected by the Framework.
The SDP's Singaporeans First Policy,
however, makes no such qualification. It seeks – without any ifs
ands or buts – to ensure that Singaporeans of all salary levels
compete fairly with foreigners. Allowing foreigners who are willing
to accept wages levels that Singaporeans cannot survive on is not fair
As long as this unfair advantage for
foreign workers remains and that employers are not mandated by law to
hire Singaporeans, employers will continue hiring foreigners over
locals. In other words, nothing will have changed.
The SDP will work to get into
Parliament and if successful, we will push for a truly Singaporeans