Comparing SDP's S'poreans First Policy and MOM's FCF

Singapore Democrats

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 foreigners.

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.

The SDP's plan thus removes a major factor that drives businesses to hire foreigners. (For a comprehensive description of the Singaporeans First Policy, please see our population paper Building A People: Sound Policies For A Secure Future, pages 15-24).

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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 competition.

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 First Policy.

Thursday, 26 September 2013 SDP Print