Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Monday January 21st 2019

2017 labour day indoor event: Jobs for Singaporeans first

We are organising our 4th labour day indoor event on 1st May 4pm for the workers entitled “Jobs for Singaporeans first”.

Workers worldwide will be celebrating labour day ground-up and we hope to do it annually in Singapore on our own as well.

We have decided to remember our workers indoor instead of the usual outdoor place at speakers’ corner due to a very wet season this period.

We will be inviting employers, entrepreneurs, workers and the unemployed to grace the occasion and jobs will be offered on that day to those who are seeking for work opportunities.

Unemployment will be our core agenda for this year labour day event and we empathsize with those who have lost their jobs through retrenchment and downsizing.

There must be at least 5% of our population unemployed and for those above 50 years old, the figure should be higher. Fresh graduates are also finding it difficult to get jobs.

The annual average offical resident unemployment rate rose slightly from 2.8 per cent in 2015 to 3 per cent in 2016, the highest since 2010, according to the finalised figures from the Manpower of Ministry (MOM) released on Mar 15.

According to the release on Labour Market Developments in 2016, the increase was broad-based across most age and education groups, with larger increases among those aged 30 to 39 and 50 and over, as well as those with secondary and degree qualifications (source: Channelnewasia dated 15 March 2017).

Redundancies went up to 19,170 last year but lower than the recessional high of 23,430 in 2009. More worryingly,slightly less than half of residents, or 48 per cent, made redundant in 2016 re-entered employment, the lowest since 2010′s 53 per cent.

Competition for jobs from foreigners remain the main grouse of local PMETs and unfortunately we still hear of replacement of exisiting positions by incoming foreigners. Companies hiring mainly foreigners to fill in professional positions are rampantly heard especially in the finance and IT industries further depressing the unemployment woes of local PMETs.

Just last week, a whistleblower has written in complaining of a Indian majority workforce in QAssure which is a foreign Indian entity that specialises in acquiring businesses from Singaporean government enterprises. The writer has complained of a all-Indian majority workforce even though we have IT expertise available locally.

However, we heard recently of a ban on Indian IT specialists from the Singapore government citing contractual violation related to Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement (CECA). Talk of the government wanting Indian IT companies to consider our local talents first for employment warm our hearts though the fear is that we have let in too many over the past few years for the ban to have any viable effect on local unemployment.

According to the MOM foreign workforce figures, there are 192,300 Employment Pass (EP) approval ending Dec 2016 with a marginal increase of 187,900 over the past year. For the lower S Pass category, 179,700 approvals were granted compared to 178,600 the previous year.

There is a total foreign workforce of 1,393,000 as of Dec 2016 and the construction sector has the biggest workforce of 315,500.

Pass type
Dec 2012 Dec 2013 Dec 2014 Dec 2015 Dec 2016
Employment Pass (EP) 173,800 175,100 178,900 187,900 192,300
S Pass 142,400 160,900 170,100 178,600 179,700
Work Permit (Total) 942,800 974,400 991,300 997,100 992,700
  • Work Permit (FDW)
209,600 214,500 222,500 231,500 239,700
  • Work Permit (Construction)
293,300 318,900 322,700 326,000 315,500
Other Work Passes2 9,300 11,300 15,400 23,600 28,300
Total Foreign Workforce 1,268,300 1,321,600 1,355,700 1,387,300 1,393,000
Total Foreign Workforce
(excluding FDWs)
1,058,700 1,107,100 1,133,200 1,155,800 1,153,200
Total Foreign Workforce
(excluding FDWs & Construction)
731,300 748,100 764,500 780,300 787,800


We also wonder why the government did not freeze foreign hirings last year due to a deepening recession so that our local PMETs have better access to employment but have in fact allow companies to hire foreigners in increasing numbers who are probably in direct competition for jobs with our locals. The government’s surprising obstinate focus on allowing foreigners to work here to boost the population to the preferred 6.9m optimal population number has angered many of our own jobless professionals.

The 2-week jobs bank criterion is also a sham whereby employers can simply post the vacancies and wait for two weeks before deciding to hire a foreigner. We propose a waiting period of at least 2 months before a company can apply for a work permit to hire a foreigner to safeguard the interests of our local PMETs with all the relevant documents to prove that he has try to hire a local first but fail to get the proper candidate.

We however applaud the Australian government’s recent brave annoucement to temporarily halt the work-related 457 skilled visa to ease their own high unemployment numbers. The Australian unemployment rate rose to a 14-month high of 5.9% with the youth unemployment rate rising in February, from 12.3% in January to 13.3%.

There is a global recession going on right now and Singapore remains a haven for foreign professionals seeking employment as our local PMETs struggle to find jobs in our own country.

What is wrong with our government or are we so seriously mismatch in skills required for the available vacancies? The financial and IT sectors have long hired foreigners in the majority as they argued that they could not find suitable jobseekers from the local workforce for the past decade. We often heard of Indians from India filling up IT lucrative positions in banks and IT companies whereas the angmo will fill up six-figure positions in the finance sector.

Moreover, a lack of minimum wage has deepened the economic crisis here for the poor exaceberated by the recent numerous hike in utilitites eg water, power, town council among others.

Many of our needy families we assisted work hard and are not complacent but they are failed by the lack of minimum wage system that plagued the under-priviledged for many decades.

They have put in their fair share of diligent work but could not earn enough to match the escalating rising cost of living.

We urge the government to put in place a minimum wage so our poor can look forward to a better future.

Though we have the world’s highest GDP but we also have the world’s highest cost of living and ironically we are one of the only developed country without a minimum wage.

For this labour day event, we urge those who are able to attend to drop by at Blk 809 French Road Level 3 Mahota event hall to discuss all these important issues. The nearest MRT is Lavender and the location is just opposite the ICA.

Employers, entrepreneurs and the unemployed are invited to speak on all related labour issues. Please let us know if you want to air your views on that day so we can allocate a place for you. Jobs will also be offered by employers on that day.

RSVP is required through as space is limited to 100 only.

Let us celebrate labour day together as workers!

Written by: Gilbert Goh

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Reader Feedback

6 Responses to “2017 labour day indoor event: Jobs for Singaporeans first”

  1. xyz says:

    Don’t forget the 500,000++ PRs, which makes it about 2M true blue foreigners, out of total 5.5M.

    Plus another 200K-300K new citizens in the last 15 years. Many of them are only citizen on paper, but in mindset, culture & attitude are still foreigners at heart. From interacting with many of these new citizens in my previous companies as well as those staying in my estate, I classify them as economic parasites. They can tell me that they will stay here as long as they can get good paying jobs. Once they hit 50s they will go back to their original countries. Countries like India, Philippines, China can easily get back citizenship or PR-status whether legally or under-table.

  2. Roy says:

    Gilbert, why never the mentioned of imperialism. You have lived in Australia. You should understand what I am talking about. The question that should be asked is why the government has never figured out the manner in which the ecosystem should operate to mitigate imperialism. Without foreign investment we are doomed anyway. But giving an inch to survive is how we managed to get through in the beginning. But why have we allowed foreigners to gain the yard that is the downfall of this country. It’s no longer a matter of policy, it’s the limitation of mindset by our leaders governing the country that is the downfall of this country. CECA is the classic example. A leader with the correct mindset of the world would not have allowed it to happen. Enjoy while it last, Singaporean. God Speed.

  3. Fine says:

    Is the current policy really in the interest of Singaporean? The figure/outcome should speak for itself. Unemployed Singaporeans should account for the lowest percentage among the total unemployed.
    If so, okay. Otherwise, you have to critically scrutinize the current labor policy. Our own ppl’s interest should be first and foremost, not businesses. Having some level of protectionism, ain’t going to destroy Singapore’s economy. We don’t have to always be top on the list for being the most friendly place to do business. Besides, cultivating own talents need time and some level of protectionism might just do the trick to boost that. Once we’re so called “well equipped”, the policies can loosen again. Its questionable why goverment is so adamant in not making such a change. Businesses are not going to retract because of this. If they do, it means Singapore is just barely surviving on only very mediocre competitive advantage. If that happens then its time to review the true fundamental problem.

  4. tired man says:

    Gilbert, thank you for the nice gesture.

    I am writing to you not to criticize the government, but to reflect on the situation. Myself being unemployed for more than a year and have gone for a few courses and applied for unknown number of jobs. The situation for those of us long term unemployed grows dire by the day, and we don’t see light, nor any viable policies by the government to help us.

    The current situation
    With MOM data released to date, 3.2% resident unemployment is a 7 year high (since 2010). It is alarming also that the year end festive season which typically throw out seasonal jobs dropped against Q3. This is a sign of immense difficulties of things to come. And yet it is shocking that nobody raised an alarm or pushed for any emergency actions to date even as we approach May 2017.

    Government action
    I think to be fair to the government, it has been trying to help. But perhaps hampered by the core belief of not paying people for not working, the schemes are tied to you receiving a wage. The intention to use wage support schemes to spur employment is logical and sane. Except that for reasons unknown, more jobs were lost. In this situation, the unemployed people who need the monetary support, never got a cent while eat away at their own savings.

    The PCP has been mentioned umpteen times and touted as a possible life saver. But have you visited the PCP website or spoken to the career counselors about PCP? There are not enough participating companies. Some of the sectors outright have no hiring companies in their list. Again, no jobs.

    WDA training programs
    This has been a recurring feedback. And I went on a few WDA, e2i, etc training. You see Gilbert, we are not being greedy. Many of us are willing to half our last drawn and even take a fresh entrant pay. But so far at the end of the course, you guessed it, no jobs.

    We need to survive day to day. You see Gilbert, the problem is we already have no monthly salary. We need some supplements. Cash. Some of us are almost to the stage of begging. We are trying our best to get a job. But the government schemes will not help us in any way because there are NO JOBS!

    Spurs in your hide
    It is frustrating not to say demoralizing to keep trying to cheer yourself up every day you wake up. Worse, the last few months were about prices increases. CPFLife premiums where the government once “promised” will never increase? Water 30%? Gas? Town council fees? I cannot remember what else. Even as we were hanging by our fingers trying not to drop down the cliff, we get spurs stuck into our tiring muscles to “work harder”. Not nice at all.

    Reduced mobility
    So there has been talk about transport fees might go up? You know what? Unemployed people need to travel more than employed people. Simply because we go for more interviews, job fairs, networking. By increasing transport fares, it will be giving us another punch in the guts.

    The long wait
    Do you know how long it takes for Civil and Public service to review your job application? How long do they take and how many hoops they make you jump through which drains your already low pool of energy and resources to get a job with the Civil and Public Service? Is it even necessary?

    Big projects
    After all these complaints, Gilbert maybe I really should give some suggestions. We have some very big infrastructural projects going on. All funded by taxpayers.

    MRT expansion. Can Singaporeans be trained to take over roles from FTs? Did we plan for Singaporeans to be trained for roles in these multi billion dollar projects?

    T5 and Jewel. Yes, another big project. Can Singaporeans be employed? Those construction companies make huge profits. Can they be told to make less just to spread some of the butter around?

    Government going digital. This is a project I heard that is being planned. With many IT projects given to Indian firms last few years, can this mega project be given to Singaporeans? Why not have training courses for Singaporeans to do the jobs and ensure Singaporean companies hire Singaporeans to tender for the projects?

    New estates. HDB is building new towns. Where can Singaporeans come in? Construction? IT? Furnishings? Electricians? Can we reduce our reliance on foreigner interior designers etc? Gate the interior designers and get more Singaporeans into the trade? Unemployed PMETs probably are affluent enough to have traveled overseas and have more ideas!

    You see Gilbert, there are plenty of opportunities to convert PMETs just by looking at the mega projects in Singapore now. But we need the Government bodies to start talking to each other and get meaningful jobs and plan training to help us. I still have a lot of respect and trust in our Civil service.

    Overseas work
    Singaporeans are savvy. Singaporean PMETs are one of the best in the world. Most of us have regional exposure. If not, our work ethics, experience and attitudes are among the best in the world. So the Government can start helping us get jobs overseas. After all, we have been letting so many foreigners in, we must have accumulated a lot of goodwill for foreign countries to hire Singaporeans! Foreigners have been championing to be hired on “fair and equal footing” as Singaporeans in Singapore must be overjoyed to ask their own countries to now hire Singaporeans on equal consideration basis as their own citizens! Also, didn’t we have so many FTAs? IESingapore and SPRING, OSU and EDB would have many foreign friends to help us right?

    The Opposition
    After all is said Gilbert, I am also disappointed in the Opposition. It is correct and true that they are not the government and don’t have the responsibilities like the government does. But that does not mean they cannot try to help. This is a situation where any help is appreciated. Why can’t SDP, WP or any PPPPPP start organizing networking and introducing jobs for Singaporeans? They can’t do it themselves does not mean they cannot be a platform to facilitate and grow a movement! It is all in their favor if they even manage to help people find jobs!

    Ok Gilbert I will stop here. Like I said, I believe that the Civil and Public service have every intention to help. But the help is not getting any results. They need to do more or do things differently and tax us less. We are dying here, don’t push us deeper into the abyss. Especially when your actions are not giving us the help we need!

  5. tired man says:

    Oh yes before I forget. You know what Gilbert? I was looking forward to PM’s May Day speech. Because with unemployment at 10 year high and re-entry rate at all time low, I think I can be forgiven to expect PM to come up with some relief for us. So many of us more than a year unemployed means it is almost impossible to go back to employment. How many employers in Singapore will hire anyone even 6 months unemployed?

    But I am disappointed at the lack of any form of help. Very disappointed. And by saying this, I mean I am feeling helpless. Very helpless. It almost feels like my own government is giving up on me……..

  6. zyx says:

    Gilbert, the still raising unemployed numbers among PMETs of late 30s to 40s indicates that the strategies used in the past 1 year are not working. The very low re-entry rate reinforces this view.

    We need urgent action to help our people back to gainful employment. We are looking at huge demands on government subsidies 10-20 years down the road when these citizens who have depleted their savings meant for retirement and not able to see their CPF. Can I predict that CPF min sum will be increased because citizens will be found to increasingly be unable to afford retirement? But it becomes a negative loop doesn’t it? If we can’t solve the unemployment issues now, the citizens will not be able to contribute to CPF, and this will lead to higher min sum, which effectively defeats the purpose of CPF!

    Also what are we waiting for? Are we waiting for divorce rates, suicide rates, alcohol, etc addiction problems to come and hit us in the face?

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