The latest scheme adopted by the NTUC to provide professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who are retrenched with financial assistance is a modified version of the SDP’s proposal launched 2010.
The PAP’s idea, called Returner Work Trial, will assist employers to offer job training for the individuals who have been unemployed for at least two years. The trainee, who must be 30 and above, will receive
- $1,500 per month from Workforce Singapore
- $1,000 per month from the potential employer
- a $2,500 allowance
The payout period for trainees is limited to six months.
Compare this to the SDP’s RESTART (Re-Employment Scheme and Temporary Assistance for the ReTrenched) programme where retrenched workers will receive:
- 75% of last drawn salary (capped at median wage) for first six months
- 50% for the second six months if still unemployed
- 25% for the third six months if still unemployed
The payout period is capped at 18 months and MOM will help match retrenched individuals with jobs. The job-seekers can only reject up to three job offers.
The NTUC’s idea is essentially an unemployment benefits scheme similar to RESTART but with the difference that under the Returner Worker Trial programme, a retrenched worker has to undergo training in order to get the financial support. There are many problems with the measure:
One, it is restricted only to PMETs. There are many retrenched workers who are not PMETs. They also face the same hardships when laid-off.
Two, the payout-training period lasts for only six months after which the employer has no obligation to offer the trainee a permanent job. This is especially salient as Singapore’s economy contracts with job vacancies continuing to fall.
Three, how are retrenched workers expected to survive if they have to remain unemployed for two years before they qualify for the scheme? A study found that 50 percent of households have little or no savings due to the high cost of living to tide them through difficult times.
In addition, why is the government using taxpayers’ money to subsidise businesses? Companies can use the scheme as a cheap source of labour. Also, will this not encourage companies to lay off workers and then profit by “training” others under the scheme at a state-subsidised rate?
Given such loopholes, Temasek Holdings needs to state how many of its Government-linked companies are participating in the scheme and the government needs to tell the public how much these GLCs will stand to benefit from it.
In the past, the PAP has also followed the SDP’s lead on minimum wage, universal healthcare, and employing Singaporeans first.