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National Wages Council to convene on Aug 21, invites public feedback on annual guidelines

SINGAPORE – The National Wages Council (NWC), which issues annual guidelines on pay and employment issues, will convene next Monday to begin its deliberations and is seeking views from the public.

The guidelines, slated for release by early November, will cover the period from Dec 1, 2023, to Nov 30, 2024.

Recommended wage practices and suggested ranges for wage increases expressed in both percentage and dollar amounts, especially for lower-wage workers, are typically part of the issued guidelines.

Members of the public who wish to share their views on wage-related issues and suggestions for the upcoming guidelines can submit their feedback to the NWC Secretariat by Sept 1.

The Ministry of Manpower said on Wednesday that the council will take into account Singapore’s economic performance and outlook, labour market conditions and inflation in its deliberations.

The NWC, a body comprising employer, employee and government representatives, will be convening amid flagging economic growth, with Singapore cutting its growth forecast on Aug 11 amid a weak outlook for the export-driven manufacturing sector.

The labour market has also shown signs of softening, with markedly slower employment growth and a dip in the number of employed residents.

Inflation, which hit 6.1 per cent in 2022, eroded the greatest increase in total wages in a decade of 6.5 per cent, making for an increase of just 0.4 per cent in real total wages.

Moreover, real basic wages, excluding employer Central Provident Fund contributions, declined for the first time since 2012, falling by 1 per cent.

Prevailing guidelines covering the year ending Nov 30, 2023, recommended that employers increase wages of lower-wage workers by between 5.5 per cent and 7.5 per cent, with a suggested minimum quantum of $80 for employers that have done well.

The NWC will issue guidance on the annual growth of progressive wages for lower-wage workers. Progressive wages refer to a wage ladder tied to productivity and skill improvements.

The ministry said the council’s upcoming guidelines will include the wage schedule for Occupational Progressive Wages (OPW) for administrators and drivers from March 1, 2024.

Developed by the NWC, the OPW model kicked in on March 1, 2023, applying to about 195,000 full-time and part-time administrators and drivers who are Singaporeans and permanent residents.

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The OPW model was mooted by the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers as one of 18 recommendations to the Government that were accepted in August 2021.

The NWC, which marked its 50th anniversary in 2022, said in its 2022/2023 guidelines it would deliberate and issue the wage requirements for OPW for March 2024 and beyond in the upcoming cycle.

The council has 37 members, including 10 fresh faces such as Singapore Business Federation chief executive Kok Ping Soon, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Kho Choon Keng and Workforce Singapore chief executive Dilys Boey.

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