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Maid agencies questioned over pay rise

Maid agencies questioned over pay rise February 24th, 2011 | Author: Online Press ( Tell your fellow countrywomen not to come Singapore ) You be exploited Several maid agencies in Singapore have been called up by the country’s anti-competition watchdog, following earlier reports that they would raise the pay of new maids from $380 to $450. The Straits Times understands that they were also requested by the Competition Commission of Singapore to provide various documents, including their financial statements. The CCS confirmed yesterday that it is “investigating the matter,” but declined to elaborate as investigations were ongoing. Those called up were among some 17 maid agencies — said to be major ones — which reportedly agreed last month to the pay hike in order to alleviate a supply crunch. The move swiftly drew allegations of price-fixing and profiteering from other maid agencies and employers. It also triggered concerns among employers that they could be held hostage by their domestic helpers, who may request for a similar pay increase. A check with at least five agencies revealed that they were interviewed by CCS officials after news broke of the pay hike. The one-on-one meetings took place at the CCS office or the agencies. “They asked us if we are making any profit from the pay increase. They said they are investigating,” said an agent who did not want to be named. Following the meetings, the CCS sent out a letter asking for various documents, including the agencies’ financial statements. “They asked for the breakdown of new Indonesian maids we are bringing in, and the total turnover for that group,” said the agent. The agencies interviewed by The Straits Times rebutted claims that they were engaged in price-fixing. Another agent, who declined to be named, said: “It was just an impromptu casual chit-chat session among us as we all face common problems. It was not a closed-door meeting, nor was there any agenda for the gathering. “The employment agencies market here is so fragmented, we can’t control it with a single price.” He also pointed out that the agencies would not benefit much from the pay hike, which is necessary to attract Indonesian maids to work in Singapore. These maids are in great demand following a shortfall in the supply of Filipino maids, after the Philippine authorities enforced more stringent rules on nationals working overseas last July. Maids from Indonesia and the Philippines make up the majority of the estimated 196,000 maids in Singapore. Despite the reasoning put forth by these agencies, news of the pay increase has drawn flak from irate employers. Reader Tang Lishan, who wrote to The Straits Times Forum page this month, said: “There should be rules against what the 17 agencies have done. They have ganged up to impose a practice at the expense of consumers.” Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, Madam Halimah Yacob said: “If you look at the way the announcement was made, it inevitably gave the impression that there was some prior discussion made. It is the CCS’ job to investigate these claims.” “We don’t know if it is indeed anti-competition, but it is now up to 17 agencies to justify why it’s not,” said the MP for Jurong GRC. The move by the CCS comes ahead of changes to the Employment Agencies Act, which will take effect from April. Among other things, the amended Act will include measures to make all charges imposed by employment agencies transparent. Businessman Peter Ong, 62, an employer of an Indonesian maid, welcomed the check by the CCS. “The authorities should step in to make sure it’s a fair game in the market,” he said. “Otherwise, the market may be monopolized, and that’s not right.” by Amanda Tan  (Feb 23, 2011 | post #1)

Cost of transport drove inflation to surge 5.5% year-on-y...

Cost of transport drove inflation to surge 5.5% year-on-year in January 2011 Higher costs of transport, housing and food also pushed inflation to rise 1.6% over December 2010. According to the Department of Statistics Singapore, the consumer price index in January 2011 increased by 1.6 per cent compared with December 2010, reflecting higher costs of transport, housing and food. With higher prices of cars and petrol, the cost of transport went up by 5.8 per cent. Housing cost rose by 2.7 per cent due mainly to higher service & conservancy charges (S&CC) as rebates for S&CC were given in December 2010 but not in January 2011. Higher accommodation costs and electricity tariffs also contributed to the rise in housing cost. Food prices crept up by 0.9 per cent arising from dearer prepared meals, fresh seafood and vegetables. Excluding accommodation costs, the consumer price index was 1.3 per cent higher in January 2011 compared with December 2010. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the consumer price index in January 2011 grew by 1.3 per cent compared with December 2010. Excluding accommodation costs, the consumer price index also increased by 1.3 per cent in January 2011. Year-on-Year Changes Compared with January 2010, the consumer price index grew by 5.5 per cent in January 2011, owing to higher costs of transport, housing and food. The cost of transport increased by 18.4 per cent on account of higher prices of cars and petrol. Housing cost rose by 5.3 per cent following higher accommodation costs and electricity tariffs. Reflecting dearer prepared meals, fresh seafood, vegetables, chilled meat & poultry, fruits, dairy products & eggs, as well as rice & other cereals, food prices went up by 2.8 per cent. Excluding accommodation costs, the consumer price index was 5.3 per cent higher in January 2011 compared with a year ago. MAS’ Core Inflation Measure MAS’ core inflation measure (which excludes accommodation and private road transport costs) was 0.0 per cent in January 2011 on a month-on-month basis. On a year-onyear basis, MAS’ core inflation measure eased to 2.0 per cent, from 2.1 per cent in December 2010. Tags: Singapore inflation 2011, Singapore accomodation costs, Singapore housing cost  (Feb 23, 2011 | post #1)

MAS needs to step it up to contain core inflation: HSBC

MAS needs to step it up to contain core inflation: HSBC Underlying demand-led pressures will join up with rising commodity prices to keep inflation readings on the high end for a while. HSBC said, given the strong reading of inflation, the MAS will need to stay in tightening mode. This was a surprisingly strong reading, which is also likely why the Statistics Department rather unusually made a specific reference to the MAS’s preferred core measure in an attempt to avoid a potential overreaction. However, excluding food and transport as a measure of core, underlying inflation is still up. Of course much is driven by the deliberate policy of limiting the supply of COEs and, therefore, to some extent do not fully reflect underlying demand pressures. At the same time, the fact that COEs still get bid up and to the current lofty levels is a clear sign that underlying domestic demand is strong. These strong demand conditions, coupled with very low interest rates, are also continuing to push up housing prices, although the January macro-prudential measures to cool the property market may eventually have some impact. However, inflation goes beyond COEs and housing. It is broadening to other categories, including food. Going forward, tight capacity constraints will translate into rising demand-led inflation pressures and higher core inflation, even as growth slows to more sustainable levels. Car prices are likely to remain high and it will be a while before the property cooling measures have an impact. There is also the risk that the elevated “non core” prices will have a second-order impact on core inflation through higher wage demands and other input cost spillovers. Coupled with rising international commodity prices, that means inflation will stay elevated for the foreseeable future. In turn, the MAS will need to stay in tightening mode and the inflation outlook suggests that they will most likely need to tighten further in April to help tame inflation, likely through a re-centering. Tags: Singapore inflation 2011, Singapore commodity prices, Singapore housing prices  (Feb 23, 2011 | post #1)

Public Worker Protests Spread From Wisconsin to Ohio

Public Worker Protests Spread From Wisconsin to Ohio By Mark Niquette Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- In what union leaders say is becoming a national fight, protests against legislation to restrict public employees’ collective-bargain ing rights spread from Wisconsin to Ohio. In Madison, Wisconsin, crowds that police estimated at 25,000 engulfed the Capitol and its lawns yesterday during a third-straight day of protests as Democratic senators fled the legislative session. In Columbus, Ohio, about 3,800 state workers, teachers and other public employees came to the statehouse for a committee hearing. President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohioan, argued over whether the bills are “an assault on unions.” Ohio firefighters Dave Hefflinger and Jerry Greer said they were. They stood near hundreds of workers elbow-to-elbow in the statehouse atrium and listened to a Senate hearing through speakers. Chants of “Kill the bill” echoed. “We’re here to support our brothers and sisters,” Hefflinger, a 27-year veteran, said in an interview. “They’re trying to take away what we fought for all of these years.”  (Feb 18, 2011 | post #1)

No love for casino as croupiers stay away

No love for casino as croupiers stay away SOME 350 Marina Bay Sands Singapore croupiers dealt the casino a bad hand by calling in sick or not going to work on Valentine’s Day. Sin Chew Daily reported that the croupiers had complained of heavy work load, difficulties in getting leave and not receiving bonuses. The daily reported that some 200 staff members resigned in January, while many others said they were planning to leave. Quoting sources, the daily reported that the workers were unhappy with the company because it failed to announce employee bonuses despite making a profit. The daily also reported the Sands’ prestigious chef Santi Santamaria, 53, died on Wednesday night after he collapsed from an apparent heart failure at his restaurant Santi. > The Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Associations of Malaysia has reduced the price of ex-farm pigs by 60 sen per kilo and suggested that the retail price be reduced by RM1 per kilo effective from Sunday, reported Nanyang Siang Pau. The newspaper also quoted Malaysian Pork Sellers’ Association chairman Goh Chui Lai as saying that after the reduction, retail pork prices would fluctuate according to demand and supply. Other News & Views is compiled from the vernacular newspapers (Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil dailies). As such, stories are grouped according to the respective language/medium. Where a paragraph begins with a > sign, it denotes a separate news item.  (Feb 18, 2011 | post #1)

Get Out of the Stock Market Now, the Rug is Being Pulled ...

Get Out of the Stock Market Now, the Rug is Being Pulled Out By Insiders Posted on Pakalert on October 31, 2010 // 1 Comment [Translate] CNBC reports insider selling-to-buying ratio for top firms is a staggering Eric Blair If you’re a baby boomer who still believes in the stock market since the financial collapse of 2008, listen up. The floor of this Ponzi scheme is about to drop out, leaving you punching a clock for some time to come and holding an empty retirement bag for your effort. The engineered crash is coming and the elite are jumping ship in droves — you should join them and get out ASAP. Stock market insider selling has now reached record highs. The trend has been increasing for the last several years, but now the ratios are getting beyond ridiculous. Earlier this month, Zero Hedge reported that the insider selling-to-buying ratio is 2341 to 1. Tyler Durden wrote: After last week saw an insider selling to buying ratio of 1,411 to 1, this week the ratio has nearly doubled, hitting a ridiculous 2,341 to 1. And while Wall Street’s liars and CNBC’s clowns will have you throw all your money into “leading” techs like Oracle and Google, insiders in these names sold a combined $200 million in stock in the last week alone. Today, CNBC reported that the insider selling activity at some of the largest traded companies is at an all-time high. This can’t be a good sign of things to come. The article points to the analysis of Alan Newman, a market strategist who tracks insider trading: “The overwhelming volume of sell transactions relative to buy transactions by company insiders over the last six months in key leading sectors of the market is the worst . . . ever.” CNBC reported that industry leaders have a staggering 3177 to 1 insider sell-to-buy ratio: The largest companies in three of the most important leading sectors of the market have seen their executives classified as insiders sell more than 120 million shares of stock over the last six months. Top executives at these very same companies bought just 38,000 shares over that same time period, making for an eye-popping sell to buy ratio of 3,177 to one. The grand total for the three sectors are “as awful as we have ever seen since we began doing this exercise years ago,” said Newman, who was ahead on such trends as the dangers of high-frequency trading and ETFs before the ‘Flash Crash’. “Clearly, insiders are seeing great value only in cash. Their actions speak volumes for the veracity for the current rally.” Also quoted in the CNBC piece was Simon Baker, CEO of Baker Asset Management, who said the insider data “is good reason for considerable caution once the price action fades,” and “insiders normally buy early and sell early too. Longer term — 12 months out — it is more of a red flag.” http://www.pakaler tpress.com/2010/10 /31/get-out-of-the -stock-market-now- the-rug-is-being-p ulled-out-by-insid ers/  (Feb 13, 2011 | post #1)

Housing Crash Is Hitting Cities Thought to Be Stable

Housing Crash Is Hitting Cities Thought to Be Stable Sunday, February 13, 2011 3:29 By DAVID STREITFELD Published: February 13, 2011 SEATTLE — Few believed the housing market here would ever collapse. Now they wonder if it will ever stop slumping. The rolling real estate crash that ravaged Florida and the Southwest is delivering a new wave of distress to communities once thought to be immune — economically diversified cities where the boom was relatively restrained. In the last year, Seattle homeowners experienced a bigger price decline than in Las Vegas. Minneapolis dropped more than Miami, and Atlanta fared worse than Phoenix. The bubble markets, where builders, buyers and banks ran wild, began falling first, economists say, so they are close to the end of the cycle and in some cases on their way back up. Nearly everyone else still has another season of pain. “When I go out and talk to people around town, they say, ‘Wow, I thought we were going to have a 12 percent correction and call it a day,’ ” said Stan Humphries, chief economist for the housing site Zillow, which is based in Seattle. “But this thing just keeps on going.” Seattle is down about 31 percent from its mid-2007 peak and, according to Zillow’s calculations, still has as much as 10 percent to fall. Mr. Humphries estimates the rest of the country will drop a further 5 and 7 percent as last year’s tax credits for home buyers continue to wear off. “We went into 2010 feeling gangbusters, thanks to Uncle Sam,” Mr. Humphries said. “We ended it feeling penniless, with home values tanking.” The fact that even a fairly prosperous area like Seattle was ensnared in the downturn shows just how much of a national phenomenon the crash has been. The slump began when the low-quality loans that drove the latter stage of the boom began to go bad, but the resulting recession greatly enlarged the crisis. Many people were unable to get a mortgage, and others simply gave up the hunt. Now, though the overall economy seems to be mending, housing remains stubbornly weak. That presents a vexing problem for the Obama administration, which has introduced several initiatives intended to help homeowners, with mixed success. CoreLogic, a data firm, said last week that American home prices fell 5.5 percent in 2010, back to the recession low of March 2009. New home sales are scraping along the bottom. Mortgage applications are near a 15-year low, boding ill for the rest of the winter. It has been a long, painful slide. At the peak, a downturn in real estate in Seattle was nearly unthinkable. In September 2006, after prices started falling in many parts of the country but were still increasing here, The Seattle Times noted that the last time prices in the city dropped on a quarterly basis was during the severe recession of 1982.  (Feb 13, 2011 | post #1)

Singapore must prepare itself for any National Security t...

Singapore must prepare itself for any National Security threat starting from 14-02-2011.  (Feb 13, 2011 | post #1)

Protection for SIN women when marriage is robbed by Husba...

my heart goes to all the men whom are exploited by the Singapore system ...  (Feb 13, 2011 | post #4)

ST Mobile Aerospace featured in investigative documentary

ST Mobile Aerospace featured in investigative documentary Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 13, 2011 8 Comments http://theonlineci tizen.com/2011/02/ st-mobile-aerospac e-featured-in-inve stigative-document ary/ In a follow-up to Flying Cheap, the hard-hitting investigation into major airlines’ outsourcing of flights to obscure regional airlines, award-winning investigative documentary series FRONTLINE and the Investigative Reporting Workshop examine the growing trend of the outsourcing of major airline repair work to lower-cost independent maintenance operations in the U.S and abroad. Among the companies there were investigated was ST Aerospace Mobile in Alabama.The company was established in September 1990 by Singapore Technologies Aerospace, a division of Singapore Technologies Engineering. ST Aerospace Mobile now does heavy repair work for several major airlines, including United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways. Through interviews with company mechanics and an examination of both government and company records, the investigation raises serious questions about the quality and experience of the workforce; the use of foreign workers with limited English proficiency; and the alleged use of unauthorized airline parts. In the preview below, an ST employee told FRONTLINE correspondent Miles ‘O Brien of a major inspection at ST by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last April. The company was given two weeks of warning before the FAA inspection. According to the employee, the resultant clean-up saw many “untagged and illegal” aircraft parts being thrown out and moved to a rented warehouse. After the inspection, some of the parts were taken back to ST. FRONTLINE claimed that since 2004, ST had been cited in FAA reports repeatedly for “failing to properly tag, document and track parts through its maintenance system.”  (Feb 13, 2011 | post #1)

MM Lee says this year growth will be slower becos of fewe...

MM Lee says that since Singaporean wanted fewer PRs, then they must accept slower growth. Do you agree this correlation between PRs and economic growth? http://www.sammybo y.com/showthread.p hp?t=87039 http://www.straits times.com/Breaking ...ry_634113.html Feb 12, 2011 Fewer foreigners, slower growth: MM S'poreans must accept the reality; 4-6% growth forecast still 'very good' THE way Singaporeans have been reacting to the wave of foreigners coming here to work has a huge bearing on Singapore's growth this year. It is a key reason for the slower growth being forecast for this year after a 'splendid' 14.7 per cent growth last year, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew on Friday. 'To keep up our strong performance, we needed more (foreign) workers. This caused some disquiet. So we are slowing down the numbers of new permanent residents (PRs). We must accept slower growth as a result,' he told his Tanjong Pagar GRC residents attending a Chinese New Year dinner at Tiong Bahru Community Centre. Still, the 4 to 6 per cent growth projected for this year is 'very good' for Singapore's mature economy, he added. Singapore had 29,265 new PRs last year, a 50 per cent decline from 59,460 in 2009. Also, 58,300 jobs were taken up by foreigners last year, far fewer than the 80,000 forecast by the Government. In his 10-minute speech, Mr Lee also identified three key factors crucial for Singapore's continued well-being. These are racial harmony, a stable society to attract investors and a high-quality people. __________________  (Feb 13, 2011 | post #1)

300 tonnes of hydrocholoric acid leaked in Singapore

300 tonnes of hydrocholoric acid leaked in Singapore 300 tonnes of hydrochloric acid leakage at a chemical plant in the West Singapore - 300 metric tonnes of hydrochloric acid leaked from a chemical processing plant in Jalan Samulun - West of Singapore - yesterday morning. Acid leaked from a damaged tank owned by Chemical Industry Far East Limited. However, the leakage was confined to the bund walls enclosing the plant. When contacted, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) told AsiaOne that no one was injured in the incident. Click here to find out more!Click here to find out more! The SCDF set up ground monitors and used water to neutralise the vapour and dilute the leakage. The remnants of the leakage has since been pumped into an empty storage tank. Three fire engines, two fire bikes and five support appliances, including a Hazardous Material (HazMat) team, were deployed to handle the situation. Further investigation by the NEA revealed that there was no hydrochloric acid fumes detected beyond the company premises during the incident. In an email to citizen journalism website STOMP, a witness, 'Jim', said he saw what looked like an explosion happen at the scene. "There was an explosion and fire incident occurred at the West side of Singapore at a chemical processing plants in the morning yesterday (Feb 12)." He also said that "Some chemical leaked into drain as well." However, the SCDF spokesperson was unable to confirm whether an explosion had occurred or whether it was an explosion that caused the leakage. When contacted, the National Environment Agency acknowledged the incident and said that further details will be released pending the completion of investigations. The agency also said that there was no leakage of chemicals into the watercourses around the factory.  (Feb 13, 2011 | post #1)

Protection for SIN women when marriage is robbed by Husba...

my hear goes to all the women whom are exploited ...  (Feb 11, 2011 | post #2)

City Alive!, Singapore’s Biggest Street Dance Party,

About CityAlive! City Alive!, Singapore’s Biggest Street Dance Party, is back at the Pit Building! Brace yourself for a night of wild entertainment at the party after Chingay 2011. Be awed by amazing dance moves from the best street dance crews around the region in our TriCrew-Best of Asia Finals and join our chart-topping DJs from across Asia such as DJ Tashi (Japan), DJ Sarasa aka Silverboombox (Japan) and Singapore’s very own DJ Andrew Chow, who will be performing with Dandee from the Bangkok Invaders! Brought to you by the PA Youth Movement, this is THE party to see and be seen http://cityalive.s g/location/ http://cityalive.s g/location/ http://cityalive.s g/location/  (Feb 10, 2011 | post #1)

Where to buy a Chingay 2011 ticket ?

Where can I buy a Chingay 2011 ticket ? http://www.chingay .org.sg/2011/ticke ting.asp SISTIC Hotline: (65) 6348 5555 SISTIC Authorized Agents islandwide Internet booking www.sistic.com.sg For corporate bookings and other ticketing packages, please email PA_Chingay_Ticketi [email protected]  (Feb 10, 2011 | post #1)