When dozens of Chinese bus drivers held Singapore’s first strike in 26 years last week, the island deported the perpetrators. Getting rid of the soaring prices that are emboldening calls for higher wages won’t be as easy.
Rising housing, transportation and business costs have given the city state the fastest inflation among the developed world’s biggest economies. The illegal protest by the SMRT Corp. (MRT) drivers in late November may herald a further escalation in price pressures, as even foreign laborers whose cheaper wages have helped restrain inflation express dissatisfaction with their incomes.
“All price go up, only salary no up,” Delowar Hussin, a Bangladeshi laborer, said as he hauled a bag of concrete debris into a dumpster outside a Singapore office tower housing Morgan Stanley (MS) and Citigroup Inc. (C) Hussin, 41, said he earns a basic wage of S$18 ($15) a day, a rate that hasn’t changed in the past four years even as his monthly living costs jumped to as much as S$400 from less than S$300.
Singapore is grappling with the elevated inflation that comes with years of economic growth and population expansion on an island smaller than New York City, with rising demand fueling record property and car prices.
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