Oct 31, 2011

Singapore - Discriminatory practices have no place in S'pore: Tan Chuan-Jin

Minister of State for Manpower and National Development, Tan Chuan-Jin said discriminatory practices have no place in Singapore. 

Speaking at the Singapore Tripartism Forum on Monday, he said tripartite partners are aware that many Singaporeans have expressed anxieties of discriminatory practices at their work place, including allegations of foreign managers hiring their own kind. 

At the forum, jointly organised by the Manpower Ministry, the NTUC and the Singapore National Employers Federation, a set of the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices was also released and discussed.

The guidelines aim to keep Singaporeans at the core of the workforce and to stamp out discriminatory employment practices.

Mr Tan said there's a need for companies to understand their responsibilities to attract, recruit and develop Singaporeans so that Singaporeans remain at the core of the nation's workforce.

Under the guidelines, Mr Tan said employers should make reasonable efforts to attract and consider Singaporeans for job positions on merit, and to train and develop their potential and careers. 

This means taking steps in spirit and action to show that jobs are open to Singaporeans. 

Giving examples, he said this could include ensuring that jobs advertised are open to Singaporeans; working with educational institutions, career centres and recruitment agencies to attract and recruit Singaporeans; and also developing the skills and expertise of their existing Singaporean employees for higher level jobs.

Mr Tan also explained at length steps taken by the government to ensure that Singaporeans are at the core of the workforce while Singapore remains open to foreigners who can complement the workforce.

His points come amidst recent concerns expressed by companies that they are facing difficulties in getting Singaporeans to work and are worried about increased foreign worker levies. 

Mr Tan said at the macro level, the Manpower Ministry's work pass framework needs to ensure that companies have the manpower they need, so that their businesses can remain viable. 

Mr Tan said: "These companies need the ability to thrive in order to create good jobs for Singaporeans. However, we all also fully recognise the constraints that we are facing and the need to moderate demand for foreign manpower. We have already begun to do so. 

"Foreign worker levies for Work Permit and S Pass holders are being increased in phases. Qualifying salaries and qualifications for those on Employment Pass are also being raised so that Singaporeans are not disadvantaged by foreigners coming in at lower wages. We will strengthen measures and enforcement to deter circumvention and contravention of the work pass framework. 

"We know that some employers are already finding this painful, but it is a necessary and inevitable structural adjustment given our circumstances."

- CNA/cc
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