WP chief pushes case for insurance for retrenched workers, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

WP chief pushes case for insurance for retrenched workers

Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh has used his May Day message to reiterate his party’s call for insurance for retrenched workers to better protect and more strongly safeguard workers’ interests.

In a statement on Tuesday (April 30), he highlighted that companies big and small are faced with high business operating costs.

Singaporean workers “may have become pessimistic even with full employment” against the backdrop of companies’ cost-cutting measures that dominated headlines in 2024, added Mr Singh, who is also Leader of the Opposition.

These measures have led to retrenchments and the complete closure and relocation of some businesses to other countries in the region, he pointed out.

“If large companies and multinational corporations with deep pockets are finding it unsustainable to operate in Singapore due to the cost of doing business here, small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) will be feeling more pressure,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong last September said unemployment benefits do not have to take the form of an insurance scheme.

Mr Wong had instead suggested for these benefits to be “appropriately sized”, while funded by the Government under an expanded SkillsFuture system, to help tide retrenched workers over their immediate difficulties.

Then on April 27, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng revealed in his May Day message that a new support scheme for involuntarily unemployed jobseekers will be announced in the later part of this year.

To back his point, Mr Singh cited a survey of 605 small and medium-sized enterprises by insurance provider QBE Insurance, which found that half of Singapore’s SMEs surveyed identified increased costs and reduced profitability as a top business challenge in 2024. 

Mr Singh also pointed out micro-sized businesses, such as hawkers, have also had to close down, adding to other recent high-profile closures in what restaurateurs widely declare is shaping up to be a “tough 2024”.

Apart from introducing an insurance scheme for retrenched workers, Mr Singh also said the government should give SMEs more support in non-wage areas, given that the cost of doing business in Singapore has become a “significant pressure point”.

His party’s suggestions on this front include talent and acquisition schemes, international expansion, rental assistance or rental support, streamlining grant application processes to provide grants on a cash-basis rather than on reimbursement.

“By helping SMEs with the non-wage costs of doing business, we hope they may continue to drive entrepreneurship and innovation, operate and employ over 70 per cent of the total labour force, and pay competitive wages for our workers,” said Mr Singh.

Mr Singh also called on the government to better effect reskilling and skills transfer from foreign professionals to Singaporeans, to prepare workers for a more competitive and demanding work environment ahead.

PRITAM SINGHMAY DAYretrenchmentWorkers' Party