A couple of Saturdays ago, mrbrown and I were invited to watch the community theatre group theVoice perform a song and dance skit at Tiong Bahru market’s food centre.
It was a little bit cheesy, but the enthusiasm of the troupe made up for that. Besides, the idea was to raise awareness of workers’ rights, especially those of lower waged ones.
When companies that buy services from providers, sometimes this puts the squeeze on those who bid – and the pressure eventually trickles down to the people who do the actual work – the cleaners, factory workers, kitchen staff – who aren’t as well versed on their rights under the Employment Act and the CPF Act.
(Employers like myself are very, very well versed with the CPF Act, actually. Just you try forgetting to pay CPF to your employees – in my case, myself – and your friendly neighbourhood CPF Compliance Officer calls you faster than you can spell CPF).
There are some common misconceptions which are often gleefully perpetuated by employers:
Staff not eligible for CPF because part time
Not eligible for CPF because not Singaporean
CPF is optional. You can opt out and get more cash
No need to be paid regularly because never sign contract
Contract says you are paid only if the company is hired for job
More recently I even read about a case where someone complained to the CPF about the employer actually taking the employer’s contribution out of the worker’s salary. Bastard right?
It helps if every one of us knows that there are avenues of redress. There are many lower waged workers who don’t know their rights, and as you can imagine, not everyone has access to the slew of information available online. Many of these workers do in fact trust that their employers are telling them the truth, and unfortunately, this trust is sometimes betrayed by unscrupulous bosses.
Whether or not we are employers, I do think it is every one of our responsibility to help inform low wage workers of their rights under the law – which in my opinion is just as important a facet as raising their wages.