Quote of the Week

“Developing a sense of good cheer in the face of adversity, you can specifically use adversity as the support for refuge and true spiritual development. I am discussing how you relate to your suffering, how you relate to your adversity, as it affects you in life and on the path.

Now, as you know, whenever you are suffering by way of the body, speech, and mind, be it physical illness or a mental affliction, this is a very big deal to you. Usually it appears as something major. Even if it’s minor, you make it into some great distress. If you lose a little money or if someone speaks nastily to you, it invokes a strong reaction. This is called “appearances arising as the enemy.” When your habituation to adversity reaches such a point that you actually fall prey to appearances arising as the enemy, it means that you no longer have patience for suffering.

…If you can’t bear the minor aspects of adversity in this, the best rebirth in cyclic existence, the precious human rebirth, what will you do when you’re reborn in the three lower realms? Samsara is so vast, so deep and limitless, and the number of sentient beings within samsara are equal to that. All of them want to be free; all of them desire liberation. You should consider then how unnecessary or pointless it is to think that your small problems in this fortunate life are so great, when in fact they really are not.

Any rebirth in this ocean of cyclic existence will by nature bring this type of discontent or suffering. Since you’ve been in this cycle of rebirths from beginningless time until now and you are still not free, it points out the fact that help is needed. Refuge is necessary. Adversity then becomes the support for training in refuge, which demonstrates that adversity is used to your advantage.”

~ Gyatrul Rinpoche, Meditation, Transformation, and Dream Yoga

Singapore workers earning more

Singapore workers earning more
Mid-point in range of incomes up 5.3% from last year to hit $2,633

By Cai Haoxiang

THE monthly salary of Singapore workers went up this year, for the second year in a row.

Their median income – the mid-point in a range – was $2,633 in June compared to $2,500 a year ago, a 5.3 per cent increase led by economic growth and a tighter labour market.

The rise is even steeper when part-time workers are taken out of the equation, according to a Manpower Ministry report yesterday on the earnings and employment of residents, including permanent residents.

It shows full-time workers’ median income to be $2,925 a month against $2,708 last year – an 8 per cent rise.

After taking into account projected inflation of about 5 per cent, their real wages rose by an estimated 2.8 per cent, said the ministry’s Singapore Workforce 2011 report.

But for all workers, including part-timers, the real wage increase was just 0.1 per cent, said labour economist Hui Weng Tat of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Noting the Government’s goal to raise real median incomes by 30 per cent over 10 years, Dr Hui said it would require an average increase of 2.7 per cent a year.

‘Attention thus needs to be focused on improving the wages and work opportunities of the 194,700 part-time workers, as they are increasing in number, and half of them indicate they want to work longer hours,’ he added.

The report also disclosed for the first time median income figures that include the Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions of employers.

With CPF, the income of full-timers soared to $3,250, which is $250 more every month than last year.

Explaining the new move, a ministry spokesman said employer CPF contributions form a ‘significant part of compensation… and can be used for housing and health care’.

Hence, it will publish the figures yearly to give ‘a more complete picture of residents’ income growth’, she said.

The rise in income this year builds on last year’s increase, which was a turnaround from the decline caused by the 2008-09 recession.

Last year, the strong economic recovery lifted the monthly income by 3.3 per cent, from $2,420.

This year, the increase is fuelled largely by strong employment growth, especially in the services sector, coupled with curbs on the inflow of unskilled labour and stricter conditions for employing skilled foreign workers, said economists interviewed.

‘Wages were pushed higher with the big projects like the Marina Bay Sands and Sentosa resorts needing a lot of labour, together with the tightening of foreign worker inflows like increased levies,’ said National University of Singapore economist Shandre Thangavelu.

These moves pushed the employment rate to a new high of 78 per cent for residents aged 25 to 64.

At the same time, immigration conditions were tightened, causing a decline in the number of permanent residents.

As a result, the resident labour force went up by just 1.6 per cent to 2.08 million, compared to an annual average of 2.6 per cent in the past 10 years.

On the other hand, more older residents and women were working this year.

A record 61.2 per cent of residents aged 55 to 64 were working, up from 59 per cent a year ago.

Similarly, with women aged 25 to 54, the number of employed rose to 73 per cent, from 71.7 per cent last year.

Labour leader Cham Hui Fong cheered the increases in these two groups, saying they show that efforts of unionists are paying off. Said Ms Cham, assistant secretary-general of NTUC: ‘Companies are now prepared to hire and spend time training these workers.’

Also, more government funds are available, she added, citing the Advantage scheme that helps companies redesign jobs for older workers.

Another is the Inclusive Growth Programme, which gives grants to companies to invest in high-tech equipment and redesign jobs for low-wage workers in return for raising their pay.

‘We hope these schemes will continue because we need to build up the momentum,’ said Ms Cham.