Yet again May Day, dedicated to workers throughout the world, is knocking on our doors but without any ray of hope for our hapless workers – exploited and oppressed by the PAP Government.
After more than 50 years of rule by the PAP that came to power in 1959 riding on the back of a then powerful labour movement, the workers have been systematically reduced to mere digits without dignity and tenure of employment.
This is because the ruling party was then waving its socialist credentials but which has since morphed into an authoritarian capitalist outfit.
There are close to three million workers out of a population of nearly five million in Singapore. In other words the vast majority of us are wage earners or dependent on salaries to maintain a decent standard of living.
There’s no protection of employment, let alone dignity of labour for our workers. Their basic rights are trampled underfoot by decades-old “labour laws” introduced in the late 1960s by the Government to deprive our workers of any voice.
Our workers are denied the right to form independent trade unions to safeguard their rights such as minimum wage, retrenchment entitlements, and job security threatened by the unchecked inflow of foreigners.
Although there is what the Government calls the National Trades Union Congress headed by a cabinet minister and claiming to represent our workers, it is simply a sham organization, a mere appendage of the PAP to check and frustrate the aspirations and expectations of the overwhelming majority of our workers.
In Singapore, which the PAP claims has reached First World status under its uninterrupted half-a-century rule, workers are at the mercy of employers. But this exploitative bind that has turned our workers into cannon fodder for foreign MNCs and government-and-Temasek-linked companies has to be changed.
The SDP has been calling for the formation of independent trade unions to genuinely look after the interests of our workers, just as the employers, including foreign multi-nationals, are allowed to form their own councils and federations to protect their sectarian needs.
We want to see a minimum wage law enacted, a Singaporean First policy in place, weekly working hours respected, and rampant exploitative practice of contract labour curtailed.
Of course, we can’t expect change to take place under the PAP rule. All that we hear from its ministers and the NTUC is the silly rhetoric to “upturn the downturn”. What this means is that Singaporean workers have to continue supporting PAP’s economic fundamentals of relying on the crisis-ridden US economy to recover.
But the SDP is proposing an alternative economic programme that advocates a sustainable approach to development – one that is aimed at transforming the country into a creative, innovative and confident society, a society that can hold high its head, moving ahead into the 21st century.
As we mark this May Day, let us work towards a paradigm shift in the economic, political and social spheres long dominated by the authoritarian PAP.
The SDP wishes all our workers, their families and friends a Happy May Day for a better and brighter future.
Singapore Democratic Party