Older workers a concern on May Day

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Employment of older workers in Singapore is the centre of concern for this year’s May Day.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has nodded in favour to extend the re-employment age beyond 65, while Workers’ Party has expressed concern that more than 50 per cent of older workers retrenched last year only found work after 6 months.

“Many have lamented about being replaced by younger workers, including foreigners earning lower salaries,” said the Workers’ Party in their May Day’s press statement.

The party reiterated, “Employers should give priority to hiring Singaporeans, and foreign workers should be employed only in positions that Singaporeans are unable to fill.”

Mr Lee noted that the Civil Service has re-employed almost 800 workers above 65 years old.

Mr Lee also said in his May Day speech, “There is no simple solution. Older workers would like to retain their current job and pay…. But at 65, we are not as strong [physically] as before.”

Mr Lee said, “For older workers to continue working, employers and workers must adjust. Workers must also prepare themselves for jobs they can physically cope with.”

He said workers must be prepared to do “different jobs, different pay.”

On that note, he said the government would help workers improve their skills and stay employable. Through two newly built Continuing and Education Training campuses at Jurong East and Paya Lebar.

The Workers’ Party also emphasised that employers must appreciate the values of older workers, such as their decades-long experiences, loyalty and commitment to the organisations they have worked for.

Similarly, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices 2013’s survey showed nearly 70 per cent of organisations felt older workers have better skills, leadership ability, and problem-solving competency than younger workers. Though the survey also showed 30 to 40 per cent of organisations felt that older workers do not have the flexibility that younger workers have, and are more expensive to employ.

Workers’ Party says the Fair Consideration Framework, that is expected to come into effect later this year, must benefit Singaporeans, especially older ones.