For many state planners, the diversification to the services sector from manufacturing makes sound economic sense – but does it necessarily mean that workers will be much better off?
The recent amendments to the Employment Act to entrench the position of labour contractors will further weaken the position of workers.
GDP or Gross National Income per capita may well go up with diversification to services, but workers could end up worse off with stagnant or even declining real wages and loss of benefits and security.
A friend of mine sent in the following observation of the Amazon company:
Its CEO Jeff Bezos makes it to No. 13 on The Forbes 400 richest people in the United States, with a net worth of US$19.1bn. He is hailed as a corporate innovator, and customers in the US and the world over drool over the price discounts of the giant retail outlet.
But his workers are reportedly part of the race to the bottom — the hollowing out of the middle and working classes — with low pay and horrendous working conditions, most of them temporary employees. Take a look at this article in The Morning Call for an inside glimpse of working conditions for Amazon employees.
Note that at US$11 per hour, someone working full time, 40 hours a week and 52 weeks a year, would be at or below the US poverty line if he or she were the only income source for a family of four.
Question: Now there may be some notable and happy exceptions … but is this our future given current policies to shift from manufacturing to services, with the bulk of services being low-paying retail, wholesale, hotel and restaurant services?
Next time you are in a supermarket or in a restaurant, try asking what the check-out clerk or the waiter serving you makes a month.