TL;DR – Will Mediacorp follow the NWC guidelines?
Mediacorp drama The Lead is currently showing on Channel 8 and in it, veteran actress Jin Yinji plays a supporting role. Even though her part is a small one, her acting was pretty good but unfortunately, we may not see much more of her on TV anymore.
Since January last year, she had been in talks with Mediacorp about extending her contract. She had three dramas lined up. But things didn’t turn out as planned. She was asked to take a pay cut of more than two-thirds.
Worse, it seems that the artiste management was rude to her. Someone in Mediacorp apparently said to her:
“If I have to hire you to act, I might as well hire a $50-an-hour bit player.”
Government encourages employers to treat elderly workers better
Wow. And here we are thinking that there is a concerted effort in Singapore to re-employ older workers and implement age-friendly practices. In fact, that was one of the recommendations by the National Wages Council (NWC).
Specifically, the NWC encouraged employers to tap on Government programmes like enhanced WorkPro to implement age-friendly workplace practices and create easier, safer and smarter jobs for older workers aged 50 and above.
Maybe the NWC guidelines were only recently released. Maybe that’s why the artiste management side of Mediacorp haven’t heard about them. Given how they treated Mdm Jin, we wonder how they will treat other workers covered by the NWC guidelines.
Will Mediacorp raise wages of Low-Wage Workers?
For example, the NWC recommended that employers grant a built-in wage increase of $45 to $60 for low-wage workers earning a basic monthly wage of up to $1,200. Forty-five dollars a month may not sound like much to most of us.
But that’s close to 3% for someone who earns $1,200 a month. It’s quite significant. What’s more, it’s not easy for NTUC to get the NWC to increase the wage threshold to $1,200 a month. Last year, the wage threshold was $1,100.
Labour MP Melvin Yong said,
“We hope that by raising the basic wage threshold, we will be able to benefit more workers that are earning a lower salary”
Indeed, the increase in the wage threshold is expected to benefit 40,700 more workers.
But recommendations only… can don’t follow one mah…
It’s true. Not all employers implement the guidelines by the NWC. It takes a concerted tripartite effort.
The national adoption rate last year was 21%. The adoption rate of unionised companies 50%. That’s more than double the national adoption rate.
But wait. There’s more. Last year, 25% of unionised companies actually gave their low-wage workers a higher increment than the NWC’s guidelines. In other words, unions play an important part in getting companies to adopt the NWC’s guidelines.
Not only that, we hear that the government is leading the charge. They are going to send a strong signal that they prefer to work with companies that implement the NWC recommendations. That’s quite important. The significant value of government contracts can prove a strong enough incentive to motivate employers to implement NWC’s recommendations.
So hopefully someone will let the management of Mediacorp know about NWC’s recommendations and the government’s commitment. Then, perhaps they will treat their elderly staff and low-wage workers better. After all, the Mediacorp gets significant funding from the government.
But unfortunately, that may be too late for Mdm Jin. Or maybe not.