Monday, March 9, 2015

Years of toil, but little in CPF

Mar 8, 2015

Despite having worked for more than 40 years, housewife Ng Siew Huay, 62, has only around $12,500 in the retirement account of her Central Provident Fund.

Her 64-year-old husband works in a low-paying job in the construction industry.

Born in a very different Singapore, Madam Ng speaks only Hokkien. She says she did not go to school, staying home instead to help her mother look after five younger brothers.

In her 20s, she got a job packing earphones in an electronics factory in Ang Mo Kio. It paid her $500, including CPF contributions - a good wage for the 1970s. But the factory folded in the early 1980s and moved to Malaysia.

For the next 10 years, she worked as a daily-rated factory worker packing preserved fruit.

The pay - $1 for every 100 packets packed - was pitiful. She earned a maximum of $10 a day and got no CPF. She resigned in the mid-1990s and has drifted in and out of the workforce as a part-time cleaner since then.

More than 33,000 women who are in their 60s or older work part-time. Some do so by choice; others because they cannot find full-time jobs.

Madam Ng's part-time jobs have brought in between $350 and $650 a month.

But her retirement savings are compromised as some past employers preferred to pay her cash instead of putting money in her CPF account.

And she is already feeling the pinch of medical costs.

She says that long years of physical labour have hurt her back. Her husband won't pay for her physiotherapy sessions and she stopped going recently when she could not pay for them herself.

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