THE LABOUR MOVEMENT SHAPED THE WORKFORCE

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THE LABOUR MOVEMENT SHAPED THE WORKFORCE
26 JULY 2015
60 CENTS
MCI (P) 044/12/2014
WAYS
TH E L A
BOUR MOVEMENT
S H A PE
D THE WORKFORCE
2 LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
1
WAYS
TH E L A
BOUR MOVEMENT
SH A PE
D THE WORKFORCE
NTUC This Week digs into the past to bring you 50 things
you most probably never knew about the Labour Movement
and its many contributions to shaping Singapore into what
it is today. Here’s a peek into some interesting facts, plus a
few fun ones...
Compiled by Marcus Lin
JANUARY 1965. Did you know that the first seeds of tripartism were planted when NTUC, employers and the Government agreed
on a Productivity Code of Practice along with a Charter for Industrial Progress? Signed by representatives from NTUC, Singapore
Manufacturers’ Association and Singapore Employers’ Federation, the agreements spelt out all parties’ commitment to raise
productivity and output and to pool resources to support economic objectives. It was also recommended that a National Productivity
Centre (NPC) be established. NPC was later replaced by the National Productivity Board (NPB) in 1972.
2
JULY/AUGUST 1968: NTUC backed a modified Employment Bill because of the British pull-out
that could have resulted in massive unemployment. The Bill sought to attract foreign investments,
thereby creating more jobs. Among other things, a clause in the Bill to retire workers at 55 was
deleted. Amendments were also made to the Industrial Relations Act.
While it is heartening to know that the Government has given an
assurance that it will not hesitate to cane the naughty employers, it
is our hope that the Government will not be found wanting in decisiveness
and firmness when it comes to dealing with recalcitrant employers. The NTUC
will not be silent if it finds that some employers take undue advantage of the
powers of managerial functions given to them under this Bill.”
Then NTUC Secretary-General Seah Mui Kok
3
NOVEMBER 1969: Then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said that the
most significant transformation of the trade union movement was the
Modernisation Seminar in 1969 that extended the activities of the unions
to embrace the economic, social and recreational life of the workers. NTUC
set up co-operatives and trade union leaders were trained to manage them.
Many of the co-operatives are household names today.
It is the consciousness of our being coowners of the new society we are creating
that provides the drive for fulfilment. In multi-racial
countries like ours, trade unions have a special
role in building up this spirit of camaraderie
amongst the workers.
“Developing the economy, increasing
productivity, increasing returns, these make
sense only when fair play and fair shares make it
worth everyone’s while to put in his share of effort
for group survival and group prosperity.”
Then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew
NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
MARCH 1970. An offspring of the Modernisation Seminar was the
formation of the omnibus Singapore Industrial Labour Organisation
(SILO). It was the first union to be formed after the Seminar and
incorporated most of the recommendations of the Seminar. These
included check-off, membership subscription rates and constitutional
amendments, among others. SILO became the second omnibus union
after the Pioneer Industries Employees’ Union (PIEU)
that was formed in 1963 to organise workers mainly in
Singapore’s pioneer industrial estate in Jurong
Courtesy of SPH-The Straits Times
4
…It will be the first trade union which is not obliged
to operate on a pathetic shoestring budget; but will
possess sufficient financial and human resources to enjoy
self-respect and the capacity for creative growth and
expansion which comes of self-respect.”
Then NTUC Secretary-General Devan Nair
MAY/NOVEMBER
1970. Can you believe
that a life insurance
policy in the 70s cost just
$9.04 a month? It was a
policy offered by NTUC
Income Insurance, the
first labour co-operative
to be launched which
provided affordable
insurance for lowerwage workers. Mr Gan
Han Kum purchased the
policy in 1971 with a 15year term and the basic
sum assured then was
$2,000 (with profits).
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LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES
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JANUARY 1971. Did you know that
Comfort taxis were once run by NTUC?
It was started as the Labour Movement’s
second labour co-operative to improve
public transportation in 1971 but it also
helped to get illegal taxis off the streets.
Unemployed workers who had been
plying the roads illegally became properly
licensed taxi and minibus drivers. Drivers
were also given the opportunity to
become shareholders of the co-operative
and owners of the vehicles.
7
APRIL 1971. You know NTUC as a champion for workers’ rights
but what does it have to do with consumers rights? In order to
protect consumers from exploitation, NTUC banded together with
a group of civic conscious consumers to set up the Consumers’
Association of Singapore (CASE). One of its key achievements was in
advocating for the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA)
which took effect in 2004 to allow consumers aggrieved by unfair
practices to have recourse to civil remedies before the courts. The law
was lobbied by former CASE Chairman and current NTUC Assistant
Secretary-General Yeo Guat Kwang in 2003.
4 LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
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FEBRUARY 1972. NTUC has been a key member of the National Wages Council
(NWC) ever since its inception with representatives from unions, management
and the Government. The NWC meets yearly to determine wage increase
recommendations and terms and conditions of service for the year.
It is against a background
of economic growth, to
which the working population
contributed in no mean
measure, that the hopes and
aspirations of our workers for
improvements in their living
standards must be seen and
appreciated.”
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Then NTUC Secretary-General Devan Nair
APRIL 1973. NTUC delegates supported
the Government’s plans to move away
from labour intensive industries to
higher, more capital intensive enterprises
with a higher technological content. To
succeed, it was necessary to upgrade the
skills of the workers.
JULY 1973. Did the late Lee Kuan Yew ‘nick’ something from
a supermarket? As Prime Minister, Mr Lee once pocketed a
small bottle in the wine and liquor section while on a tour of the
first NTUC Welcome Supermarket. He turned to its Chairman
Chandra Das and said: “There goes your profits for the day.” Mr
Lee was proving the point that the co-operative’s profits were
low and pilfering would lower it further. Against the backdrop
of a global oil crisis, NTUC Welcome Supermarket was set up
to combat rising food prices, profiteering and hoarding that
affected prices of essential goods. It is today known as NTUC
FairPrice. The leading supermarket retailer in Singapore serves
more than 600,000 customers daily and employs thousands of
workers.
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DECEMBER 1977. So where does NTUC get the funds to help the workers of
Singapore? The answer lies in the Singapore Labour Foundation (SLF), which was founded
by an Act of Parliament to improve the welfare of union members and further the
development of the trade union movement in Singapore. SLF provides financial support
to NTUC, its affiliated unions, co-operatives and associations for their educational, social,
cultural and recreational activities as well as extends assistance to lower-income union
members through its welfare schemes.
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NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES
MARCH 1980. To improve labour-management relations, NTUC worked with
several companies to set up Work Excellence Committees. Also involved were the
Economic Development Board, the Vocational Institute Training Board and the
Labour Ministry.
FEBRUARY 1982.
The massive Basic
Education for Skills
Training (BEST)
programme was
started by NTUC to
help workers without
secondary education
to learn basic levels
of English and
Mathematics so that
they could attend
skills courses to stay
employable.
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JANUARY 1982. Did Prime
Minister Lee Hsien Loong bring
workers into the age of computers?
As Lieutenant-Colonel, Mr Lee
and a team of computer experts
from the Ministry of Defence
assisted the NTUC’s committee on
computerisation to train the tutors
who took over the running of the
NTUC’s computer appreciation
and training programme.
This was to help thousands
of workers pick up the basics
in the use of a computer. The
committee, formed in January
1982, was chaired by then NTUC
Deputy Director Lim Boon Heng.
We have in our workforce a large
pool of workers who lack the basic
training in English and Mathematics
needed for skills development.
Unless something is done for them
immediately, they may over time, as
technological innovations pick up
momentum, become untrainable and
even unemployable.”
Then NTUC Deputy Director (Field) Goh
Chee Wee who was in charge of the project
Harsh as this may sound,
and painful as the sum
total of various measures of
wage restraint may be, we need
to face up to them squarely. To
do nothing is to sink deeper
into the economic quagmire.
To accept temporary sacrifices
is to pull ourselves out of it, with
the promise of better things to
come.”
Then NTUC Assistant SecretaryGeneral Lim Boon Heng
FEBRUARY 1986. Could
NTUC have actually said
“yes” to a CPF cut? To save
jobs in a time of high wages
during a severe economic
downturn, the NTUC and its
affiliated unions went along
with a 15 percentage point
cut from the employers’ CPF
contribution to workers
as recommended by the
Economic Committee. This
represented a 12 per cent cut
in annual wages.
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6 LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
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1986. The National Wages Council
recommended that Singapore adopts a wage
system that is responsive to fluctuating
economic conditions so that wages can be
adjusted accordingly. There were key points
made by the NTUC for information-sharing
and fair performance appraisal. A Flexible Wage
System was introduced in the form of variable
bonus, performance-driven assessment, profit
sharing scheme, and Key Performance Indicator
bonuses.
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OCTOBER 1988. Opening the $38
million NTUC Pasir Ris Resort, then
Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said NTUC
is removing any sense of psychological
exclusion the middle and lower income
groups may otherwise feel if they were
denied access to certain things in life.
The opening of
this Pasir Ris Resort
marks a milestone in
the history of Singapore.
It equals in design,
facilities and holiday
atmosphere the best of
seaside resorts in the
region.”
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Then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew
FEBRUARY 1993. Parliament approved a
bill to extend retirement age in the private
sector from 55 to 60. Taking unionists’
views into account, the Government
dropped two conditions for extension of
retirement age at that point in time: a
medical fitness test and satisfactory work.
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DECEMBER 1994. Are you aware that Orchid Country Club (OCC)
boasts one of the best golf courses in Singapore? OCC was voted top
three best golf courses in the nation by Asia Golf Monthly in 2010 and
2011. Then NTUC Secretary-General Ong Teng Cheong mooted the idea
of a golf and country club for workers in 1991 which would allow them
to have “a fair share of the fruits of Singapore’s economic progress” in
recognition of their contributions. He envisioned a golf and country club
that would be affordable to workers as he did not want golf to become a
“game for executives only”. OCC, believed to be the first country club for
workers in the world, was in operation by 1994.
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DECEMBER 1996.
The NTUC launched the
Skills Redevelopment
Programme (SRP) so
as to develop a training
culture in Singapore.
A $50 million boost
was given to help fund
the expanded SRP
that aimed to benefit
thousands of workers.
We are talking about quantum improvement
in skills profile – in some cases, over a few
months; in others, over a couple of years. The
curricula will be tailored to the needs of individual
companies. There will be no one standard
package.”
Then NTUC Administration and Research Unit Director Lim Swee Say
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NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES
JANUARY 1999. Look at your payslip today and you will notice a
component known as the Monthly Variable Component (MVC). This was
something suggested by NTUC to make our wage system more flexible.
This could make it unnecessary to cut the CPF contributions in any future
economic downturn, unless the situation was very grave.
NOVEMBER 2000. Did you know that Downtown East is in the Singapore
Book of Records for the largest Cha Cha Dance held in a single venue? They
also made local history for the most number of people painting Easter
eggs and the most number of people playing Twister. Downtown East is an
integrated leisure and lifestyle destination developed by the NTUC in the
former Pasir Ris Resort in 2000. The facilities now include Wild Wild Wet,
Aranda Country Club, E!hub and the newly opened D’Resort.
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APRIL 2002. The NTUC set up
a one-stop centre - Joblink - to
help retrenched workers find
jobs. Then NTUC SecretaryGeneral Lim Boon Heng said
it would also assist workers to
take up new forms of skills to
stay abreast of changing job
requirements.
SEPTEMBER 2002. With active NTUC lobbying, the
law was amended in September 2002 to allow partial
representation of executives. Rank-and-file unions represent
Ordinary Branch members in wage negotiations and
workplace issues. General Branch members do not have such
representation rights. However, they enjoy the same social
benefits such as NTUC FairPrice
rebates, discounts for use of chalets,
access to golf privileges and NTUC
Club facilities. Most executives may
join as General Branch members.
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2003. When Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
hit Singapore, leaders of the various Taxi Operators’
Associations volunteered their time to help man
the 17 checkpoints where taxi drivers had their
temperature checked. The Labour Movement also
set up a task force to spearhead efforts to help these
taxi drivers, getting taxi companies to provide rental
and diesel rebates to the drivers. Those hardest hit
were union members in the hospitality, healthcare
and airlines industries. The Labour Movement
negotiated with employers on ways to help their
workers keep their jobs in these difficult times.
The unions, working closely with the management,
ensured that adequate protective measures and
precautions were taken for healthcare workers and
airline staff.
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8 LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
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SEPTEMBER 2003. Then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said
the CPF cut (from 36 per cent to 33 per cent) would go a long
way to increase cost competiveness. NTUC unions supported
the move that took effect in October 2003.
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MARCH 2005. The Job Re-creation Programme
(JRP) was initiated to transform existing low
paying jobs into more attractive ones to help
Singaporeans, especially mature ones with less education, to earn more
through higher productivity. It also encouraged the unemployed to get back
into the workforce. JRP was gradually introduced in various industries
from cleansing, hospitality, landscaping to the security and public transport
sectors.
2005. Young NTUC was launched in
2005 as the official youth wing of the
Labour Movement. Working closely
with the youth chapters of the NTUCaffiliated unions and association through
activities and interest groups like
bowling and photography, Young NTUC
seeks to engage the young workers
of Singapore. To date, it is the largest
youth movement in Singapore with over
180,000 members below 35 years old.
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MAY 2006. The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment
Practices (TAFEP) was formed to promote employment practices that are
fair and equitable to all workers. TAFEP is co-chaired by Singapore National
Employers Federation (SNEF) Vice President Bob Tan
and NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Heng Chee How,
and also includes members representing the employers,
workers/unions, and the Government.
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2006. The Unit for Contract Workers was set up in 2006
to assist lower income contract workers in areas relating
to employability, medical benefits and fair employment
terms. It was renamed the Unit for Contract and Casual
Workers in 2007. Through this unit, more intense efforts
are channeled to enhance the economic and social wellbeing of the low-wage contract and casual workforce. The
unit looks into enhancing the workers’ welfare in areas of
medical and insurance needs. It also ensures that workers
remain gainfully employable for life with skills upgrading,
re-training or job expansion and re-design.
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SEPTEMBER 2007. You know
that NTUC runs a supermarket
chain and insurance firm, but
a shopping mall? Built by the Labour Movement, Ang Mo
Kio Hub was officially opened in 2007 and featured FairPrice
Xtra, its first hypermarket, along with Income, Foodfare,
First Campus, Unity Pharmacy and Club.
NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES
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JANUARY 2007. The Singapore Tripartism Forum (STF)
got the biggest pat on its back with the endorsement of
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. He addressed an audience
of 500 union leaders, management partners and Government
officials at the inaugural STF dialogue session on 24 January
2007. The STF provides a platform for the tripartite partners
to come together and work out a consensus to create win-win
situations for all.
APRIL 2008: The updated NTUC logo and U hallmark was
unveiled by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The new “U” logo
replaces the old design of a spanner and eight cogs of the wheel,
which had dutifully served the Labour Movement for the past
37 years. Then NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say explained
that the new logo encapsulates three important issues. The small
U represents workers of all collars, ages and nationalities. The big
U symbolises full commitment from the Labour Movement, its
affiliated unions and associations, social enterprises, and partners,
to grow, stay strong and contribute to nation building. The invisible
U encapsulates the core values of the Labour Movement, which
is to serve with passion, commitment and to always maintain the
trust of workers.
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A Job For [email protected]
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and Resilience. SPUR is designed to comprehensively help
companies and workers tackle the downturn and build
stronger manpower capabilities for the recovery.
NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say welcomed and
supported the timeliness and broad shape of the Budget
outlined by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and
the two initiatives announced by MOM and MTI. He said that
with rapidly declining global demand, ever more companies
are feeling the heat and having to downsize or even go bust.
Invariably, retrenchments and unemployment rates will go up.
While conceding that cost-cutting is crucial for survival,
SG Lim pointed out in no uncertain terms that the name of
the game is to “cut costs to save jobs, not cut jobs to save
costs”. He had on a separate occasion called this crisis the
moment of truth, no less than an acid test for tripartism in
Singapore. Realistically for 2009, gone are the days of low
retrenchment and full employment. As such, he continued:
“From the Labour Movement’s point of view, the
question we ask ourselves is what is our top priority as
we go through this downturn. For us, the top priority must
be one of guarding against massive retrenchments and
ction always speaks louder than words in times
preventing a rapid rise in unemployment.”
of crisis. Ahead of next year’s Budget Speech
He stated that even though it’s anybody’s guess as to
now brought forward to 22 January 2009,
how long and deep a global recession will last, the whole
the Government has given the green light for
being of the Labour Movement in the real world is to create
massive cash injections to
and save jobs for workers. Even if
prop up a sagging economy and sharpen
it is 1 per cent of Singapore’s 1.8
There is no doubt
workers’ competitive edge in the current
million workforce, it is still 18,000
there is light at
world economic downturn.
workers helped.
the end of the tunnel, but
Details were announced at a joint
SG Lim warned that quickpress conference on 21 November 2008
fix indiscriminate cutting of jobs
how long the tunnel is we
involving the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of
would have severe consequences.
do not know. What we are
Trade and Industry, Ministry of Manpower,
If that were to happen: “It will be
more concerned about is
the National Trades Union Congress
a win-lose situation; a win for the
that when we reach the
and the Singapore National Employers
businesses and a lose for the
end of the tunnel, are we
Federation. They laid down the ground
workers of Singapore and this
rules of engagement in a hostile worldwide
win-lose situation eventually will
going to emerge from this
economic climate.
turn into a lose-lose situation.
tunnel more united or
To give local firms a fillip and prevent
The trust will be weakened and
more disunited?”
them from going under, the Government
eventually cooperation will turn
will, with effect from 1 December 2008,
into confrontation and this is not
NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say
enhance its existing business financing
what we want to see happening in
schemes to fight credit tightfistedness. This
Singapore.”
will support an additional $2.3 billion in loans and funding,
He said that the middle road is to “focus our energies
with more to come if need be, to help businesses gain
and efforts on cutting costs to save jobs because this is the
access to credit. Up to 124,000 local companies stand to
way to ensure that we will we be able to achieve not only the
benefit from greater liquidity and credit essential for survival. right outcome for businesses but at the same time a good
by
Also effective from 1 December 2008, the Government
outcome for the workers”. He added: “This is a win-win
Marcus Lin
is pumping in $600 million over two years for a new tripartite outcome. One that will strengthen trust not weaken trust,
programme called the Skills Programme for Upgrading
one that will strengthen tripartism not weaken tripartism.”
the
downturn
NTUC Hallmark
CMYK
Businesses,
Workers,
Get A Shot In
The Arm
FEBRUARY 2008. NTUC’s e2i (Employment and
Employability Institute) is a one-stop, skills-based institute
that equips workers with the mindset, skills and job
opportunities to stay employable for life. It is an initiative
of NTUC in partnership with the Singapore Workforce
Development Agency (WDA) and the Singapore Labour
Foundation (SLF). e2i was officially launched by Prime
Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 1 February 2008. e2i moved
into their new home at the Devan Nair Institute for
Employment and Employability, which was officially open by
PM Lee on May Day 2014.
33
$2.3 Billion And $600
Million To SPUR Them On
A
“
35
2008. To counter the global economic downturn, the
Government pumped in $650 million over two years for a
new tripartite programme called SPUR (Skills Programme for
Upgrading and Resilience) to help companies and workers tackle
the downturn and build stronger manpower capabilities for the
recovery. Then NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say stressed
that the name of the game was to “cut costs to save jobs, not cut
jobs to save costs”.
NTUCTW28Nov08.indd 1
11/27/08 9:50:56 PM
10 LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
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JULY 2009. U Live was set up as a
membership community for those who were
older than 55 years and active. It is today
an energetic and exciting community with
over 20 interest groups and aims to keep its
members productive and connected with
friends and family through an active lifestyle.
SEPTEMBER 2009. NTUC and
the Singapore National Employers
Federation established the Migrant
Workers Centre to help migrant
workers with workplace issues and to
provide facilities for recreation.
37
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60 cents | MICA (P) 035/10/2009
16 APRiL 2010
MAY 2009. The call was to raise a record $20 million by the end
of May 2009 for the Labour Movement U Care Fund in aid of
needy low-income and retrenched workers during the economic
downturn. From 11 March 2009, contributions poured in so fast
that the target was met ahead of time and exceeded expectations
with $23,187,160 raised. There was overwhelming support shown
by every union and affiliated association, every NTUC Social
Enterprise, more than 100 unionised companies, the Singapore
Labour Foundation as well as other corporations and companies.
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2009. The Cheaper Better Faster movement was
introduced by the Labour Movement to urge the
Singapore economy to be “cheaper through higher
productivity, better through better capability and
faster through enhanced adaptability.”
Employers’ CPF Contribution Rate
Time Is Ripe
To Have A Relook
T
o restore or not to restore, that is the question.
To NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say's
mind, the ground is sweet for at least a partial
restoration of the employers’ CPF contribution
rate from the current 14.5 per cent towards the
long term target of 16 per cent.
Referring to the Ministry of Trade and industry’s
announcement on 14 April 2010 that Singapore’s economy
is expected to grow by 7.0 to 9.0 per cent in 2010, and
advance estimates indicating that Singapore’s GDP
expanded strongly by 13.1 per cent on a year-on-year basis
in the first quarter of 2010, SG Lim said:
“On the part of the Labour Movement, we feel that
given the strong performance of the economy in the first
quarter, as well as the healthy outlook for the rest of the
year and given the low unemployment situation, this is a
good opportunity for us to consider some form of CPF
restoration.”
He registered this point on the sidelines of a visit to
Cameron (Singapore) Pte Ltd on 15 April 2010 to explore
Cheaper Better Faster and productivity strategies with
management and union.
SG Lim highlighted that the strong economic
rebound from the doldrums of the past year reaffirms that
Singapore’s strategy of cutting costs to save jobs during the
downturn was right for both workers and companies: “As
a result, if you look at Singapore today, we have the best of
both worlds. On the one hand, our unemployment is among
the lowest in the world, and at the same time the strength of
the rebound is one of the strongest in the world.”
He stressed that it is critical to “continue our focus on
productivity revival to ensure that the healthy rebound can
be sustained for the rest of the year and into 2011 and
beyond,” and that “it is important that we take full advantage
of this strong rebound to strengthen our economic
foundation.” importing productivity and innovation best
practices from around the world and spreading it quickly, in
particular to the SMEs, will go a long way towards that end.
SG Lim noted that “with low unemployment and strong
economic performance this year, the wage pressure will
be stronger,” and workers ought to be rewarded fairly in
2010 given the better economic performance. However,
he added: “it is important that we keep our wage system
flexible. in other words, not all wage increase should go
into the built-in wage increase. Some should continue to
be in the form of bonuses, could be mid-year or year-end
bonuses. What is important is that we want workers to have
a fair share of the gains and yet, at the same time, keep our
wages flexible.”
That brought SG Lim to the all-important issue of
savings for the future: “As we continue to grow our
economy and upgrade our productivity, wage pressure will
go up and it is important that we don’t just put all these
wage increases into our pockets and spend them for today.”
He reasoned that with increasing life spans there
is a need for programmes like CPF LiFE and better
healthcare in the future which bear out the
“
“
We feel that this is a good
opportunity that we should
not let it go past without at least
taking another look at this CPF
restoration.”
NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say
We urge the Government to
take a cautious approach
in responding to the Labour
Movement’s call. Any restoration
of the employer CPF contribution
rate should be done gradually, to
ensure that business recovery at
the company level is not derailed."
President of SNEF Stephen Lee
“
The Government will consider
carefully the call by the
Labour Movement to restore the
employer CPF contribution rate in
view of the strong recovery and
robust outlook of Singapore's
economy, taking into account
employers' concerns on business
competitiveness”
40
Minister for Manpower Gan Kim Yong
importance of healthy CPF accounts. The current total
CPF contribution rate is 34.5 per cent, with employers
contributing 14.5 per cent and employees 20 per cent. The
long term CPF rate target is 36 per cent with employers
contributing 16 per cent and employees 20 per cent.
“We are not pushing to get there in one step. What
is important is that we want to register our appeal that
given the climate today, we think this is a good opportunity
because looking ahead, we are not so sure when we have
another opportunity when we will see strong growth, low
unemployment and at the same time a healthy economic
outlook.”
Recognising that employers would have their concerns,
SG Lim said: “What we hope is that the Government will
take into consideration the desire of the Labour Movement
to take full advantage of this
present situation to consider
some restoration. At the
same time, obviously the
Government will have to
take into consideration the
feedback and sentiments of
Page
the business community.”
APRIL 2010. In light of an estimated economic growth of 7-9
percentage points, NTUC called for the partial restoration of
employers’ CPF contribution rate from 14.5 per cent towards
the long-term target of 16 per cent. At the May Day Rally 2010,
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the employers’
CPF contribution rate would be raised by one percentage point. In
2015, NTUC again lobbied to restore contribution rates but this
time for older workers. The move saw increases for workers
aged
UWEEI Adopts
50 to 55 (2%), 55 to 60 (1%) and 60 to 65 (0.5%). ‘Kaizen’ Culture
By
Marcus Lin
4
NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES
AUGUST 2010. From high
tech excavators to robot
waiters, there is nothing the
Inclusive Growth Programme
(IGP) does not fund in the
name of productivity. NTUC
launched the $40 million IGP
fund to raise productivity of
at least 25,000 lower wage
workers over the next two
years, and at least 100,000
workers in the next five years
to transform their jobs, skills
and wages. As at December
2014, it is a $100 million
programme that has funded
about 1,680 projects to boost
the wages of over 83,000
workers.
44
41
JUNE 2012. The Progressive Wage Model (PWM) was
introduced as a more pragmatic and effective approach in
achieving higher and more sustainable real wage increases
for low-wage workers through skills upgrading, increasing
productivityand developing career paths. PWM is now a
mandatory licensing requirement for cleaning companies
and this has benefitted over 35,000 resident cleaners.
PWM will also be a licensing requirement for security and
landscaping firms in 2016.
FEBRUARY 2011. A new tripartite mediation scheme was launched for
PMEs (Professionals, Managers and Executives) who were union members
in non-unionised companies earning $4,500 or less. It provided a new
avenue for them to resolve employment disputes – mediation sessions with
representatives from the NTUC, the Ministry of Manpower
and the Singapore National Employers Federation under the
new Employment Dispute Resolution mechanism. It was
recently enhanced in 2015.
42
This whole process of skills,
productivity and wage
upgrading will be continuous and
there will be no ceiling imposed
for any job. Through this pragmatic
approach, we believe that wages
can go up in a sustainable
manner.”
Then NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say
22 June 2012
60 cents | MICA (P) 108/11/2011
Progressive Wage - Keep Getting Better
C100 M0 Y0 K0
JANUARY 2012.
Feedback and
suggestions from
NTUC and unionists
contributed to the
implementation of
the Retirement and
Re-employment Act in
January 2012. Under
the Act, workers are
re-employed till age
65 after reaching the
retirement age of 62.
43
11
C50 M0 Y100 K0
C15 M0 Y100 K0
By Naseema Banu Maideen
Companies
win – as
they get to retain
their valued
older workers
and remain
competitive.
Older employees
win – as they have the opportunity to work
longer, earn a regular income and build
up their retirement savings. Singapore’s
economy wins as we can better utilise our
limited manpower resources and reduce
our reliance on foreign workers.”
Then Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong at the
Singapore Tripartism Forum Re-employment
Seminar
T
he Labour Movement will now adopt a progressive wage
strategy to level up salaries of low-wage workers through
the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP). NTUC SecretaryGeneral Lim Swee Say said that this is a more pragmatic
and effective approach of achieving higher and more sustainable
real wage increases for these workers. He said this strategy is set
to first impact the group of 10,000 cleaners from four sectors public cleansing, hawker centres’ cleaning, school cleaning and
conservancy cleaning.
Elaborating on the all-win outcomes that this progressive
wage system will achieve, SG Lim was addressing industry
partners and union leaders at the Labour Movement’s Cleaning
Journey held at NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability
Institute) on 21 June 2012.
The Labour Movement’s immediate target for cleaners’
earning below $1,000 is to work with industry partners to bring
up their salaries to $1,000. And for those who are already earning
$1,000, the next target set is to aim for $1,200. When workers
have reached the $1,200 mark, the next mark is $1,500 and the
progression goes on up the progressive wage ladder, SG Lim
said.
“Our philosophy is that every job can be improved in terms
of skills, in terms of productivity and in terms of wages if we
care enough. It will become the core strategy of the IGP. The
Labour Movement prefers this approach to minimum wage
implementations, which he cited as “too slow and sticky.”
When the minimum wage is too low, it will not solve the
problem of the low wage workers. If it is set too high, some
workers may be left unemployable. Furthermore, raising the
minimum wage involves much negotiation and consultation thus
making it a sticky wage.
Pointing out these concerns, SG Lim highlighted that “under
the progressive wage strategy, the upgrading of wages is not
through legislation but rather through mutual support.” He also
cited three all-win outcomes. Firstly, higher wages for workers;
secondly, healthy competition among industry players and, thirdly,
better value-for-money for service buyers.
Progressive
Wage Ladder
For Cleaners
$ 1,800
$ 1,500
$ 1,200
$ 1,000
Workfare Income Supplement (WIS)
National Wages Council's (NWC) Recommendations
Social Transfer Programmes
NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say highlighted the progressive wage ladder for the cleaning
sector at the Cleaning Journey held on 21 June 2012.
“
This whole process of skills, productivity and wage
upgrading will be continuous and there will be no ceiling
imposed for any job. Through this progressive approach, we
believe that wages can go up in a sustainable manner.”
NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say
Continued on page
2
Beep, Beep! Jobs Are Coming To Your Neighbourhood
By Nicolette Yeo
C
alling all women jobseekers! From July, look out for a pretty pink
van with the words `Let Women’s Development Secretariat Help U’
and `Women Back2Work’ in your estate. It just may be your ticket
to a new job.
The NTUC Women’s Development Secretariat (WDS) has pioneered
`Jobs on Wheels for U’, a new recruitment effort to reach out to women
jobseekers in the heartlands. Once a week, the van will ply a different
heartland estate to offer at least 500 job opportunities that are nearer the
women’s homes and have competitive remuneration packages. To this
end, WDS will be working with various partners, such as the Community
Development Councils (CDC), other community agencies, NTUC’s e2i
(Employment and Employability Institute) and direct employers, to ensure
a pipeline of job opportunities.
Thereafter, the van will be based at a Community Centre nearby
where WDS staff will provide jobseekers with a list of available jobs and
conduct basic screening. WDS will then follow up by sending resumes to
employers and setting up interviews.
This initiative aims to target women who are too busy to search for a
job or who are confined to their homes or neighbourhoods. The pilot run,
which will take place from July to October 2012, will kick off in the North
West Zone before proceeding to other zones in Singapore. If successful, it
might become a long-term project.
`Jobs on Wheels for U’ was launched at WDS’ first major Back2Work
with U Job Fair on 15 June 2012 at Nee Soon East Community Centre
by special guest NTUC Director for PMEs (Professionals, Managers and
Executives) and Legal Services Patrick Tay.
Continued on page
e2i Report Card
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12 LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
47
MARCH 2014. NTUC embarked on an extensive public
education programme and prepared a handy guide after the
Protection From Harassment Act was passed in March 2014.
The Act defines what harassment is and provides a range of
self-help measures and ways to protect against harassment.
45
NTUC This Week 11 JANUARY 2015
NOVEMBER 2013. Did you know that the Labour Movement once
helped a worker get back about $13,000 in owed wages? The worker was
assisted by the U Care Centre, set up as a one-stop centre for low-wage
workers to seek employment advice and assistance. Since its inception,
the Centre has reached out to more than 5,000 workers via its walk-in
centre, hotline and outreach events.
Acts
Abuse
Of
LEGAL ISSUES
3
Ms Y is a [email protected]#x*!
We dig through past cases where
taxi drivers and healthcare
personnel have suffered the brunt
of others’ wrongful actions.
T
he media has been reporting on several harassment and verbal
abuse cases taking place over the years. The disturbing trend gave
much impetus for the Labour Movement and union leaders to
lobby for greater protection for workers in the frontline categories such as
public healthcare and public transport, amongst others. NTUC This Week
recounts some of the distressing events.
Ms Y ...
Taxi Drivers, Unruly Passengers
Our U Care Centre and dedicated toll-free hotline
provide a safe environment and easy accessibility for
low-wage workers to seek assistance and clarification on
workplace and employment rights and issues.”
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and Care and Share Director
Zainal Sapari
In December 2014, fifty-year-old taxi driver Colin Neo was
harassed by three passengers.
After boarding Mr Neo’s taxi along
Clarke Quay, the three passengers
proceeded to use insulting words on
Mr Neo. One of the passengers also
constantly tapped on Mr Neo’s
shoulder, interrupting and
affecting his concentration
on the route.
Despite Mr Neo’s
repeated pleas, the
passengers continued
with their disruptive
behaviour in the taxi
until they got off.
Cyberspace Harassment
Making an insulting or abusive communication
in cyberspace is also an offence under the
Protection from Harassment Act. The following is
an illustration where a person is guilty of causing
harassment, alarm or distress to a co-worker.
Mr X posts a vulgar rant against co-worker
Ms Y on a website accessible to all of their
colleagues. A fellow colleague shows the message
to Ms Y, and Ms Y is distressed.
Healthcare Personnel Abuse
In 2013, a man hurled vulgarities at hospital security
officers at the Emergency Department after he was
denied entry into the emergency wards.
In 2014, a patient’s next-of-kin threatened and
scolded a hospital service ambassador after he was not
allowed to enter the ward due to overcrowding.
Also in 2014, an elderly patient kicked a female
nurse in the chest who was trying to address his
concerns.
46
2014. To cater to the needs of the everincreasing PME population, NTUC opened
two U PME Centres in 2014 to provide
employment advice and assistance. The first opened its doors in January
at the NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) in Jurong
East while the second was established in the heart of the Central Business
District at NTUC Centre in One Marina Boulevard. Also launched at the
second U PME Centre was a new PME portal to give PMEs 24-hour access
to its information and services.
U PME Centre is equipped to answer queries on
the newly amended Employment Act and other
related labour legislation as well as on the Protection
from Harassment Act when the details of reporting and
management of complaints are fleshed out.”
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and NTUC PME Unit Director
Patrick Tay
48
AUGUST 2014. On the suggestion of NTUC Assistant
Secretary-General Patrick Tay, a National Jobs Bank
was launched in July 2014 by the Singapore Workforce
Development Agency and the Lifelong Learning Institute.
The online portal allows Singaporeans to look for jobs while
employers can fill vacancies. The Jobs Bank complements the
Fair Consideration Framework launched in August 2014 that
gives Singaporeans a fair go at job opportunities.
NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
OCTOBER 2014. NTUC and its Social Enterprises put together a special
Pioneers OK! package in October 2014 to thank the Pioneer Generation for their
contributions to nation building. The 15-month initiative touches on pioneers’
needs such as daily essentials, cooked food, health products, education and
insurance.
LABOUR MOVEMENT MILESTONES
49
NTUC This Week 09 NOVEMBER 2014
FEATURE
Industrial Relations Act
CURRENT representation for PMEs in
PROPOSED representation for PMEs in
Limited Representation (Individual basis)
✔ Unfair Dismissal
✔ Payment of retrenchment benefits
✔ Victimisation
✔ Breach of employment contract
Limited Representation (Individual basis)
rank-and-file unions
rank-and-file unions
✔
✔
✔
✔
✔
Unfair Dismissal
Payment of retrenchment benefits
Victimisation
Breach of employment contract
Re-employment NEW
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING NEW
Rank-and-file unions can collectively represent PMEs like
they do for rank-and-file workers.
What is collective bargaining?
The power to bargain collectively is an important function of a union.
During the process of collective bargaining, trade union representatives will negotiate with the
company’s management on matters such as salaries, working hours, working conditions and
medical benefits.
When an agreement is reached with the management, the conditions will be spelt out in a legal
and binding document known as a Collective Agreement.
We welcome the
change. We welcome
PMEs to be part of the
tripartite family. As you know,
the profile of the workforce is
50
3
APRIL 2015. Speaking about
the Industrial Relations Act
Amendment that took effect
in April 2015, NTUC Assistant
Secretary-General Patrick Tay
said it is a “milestone change”
for the Labour Movement as it
opens up opportunities to better
protect PMEs (Professionals,
Managers and Executives).
The Amendments allow rankand-file unions to collectively
represent PMEs like they do for
rank-and-file workers on their
collective agreements. On an
individual basis under limited
representation, PMEs can also
seek help in re-employment
matters.
13
14 LOW-WAGE WORKERS NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
The NTUC-U Care Fund celebrates the surpassing of its target to raise $10.5 million for low-income union members.
Because You Care!
U Care Fund surpasses its target of $10.5 million to hit a high
of $11.2 million for this year.
By Ramesh Subbaraman
S
ingaporeans for sure have a gentle and soft
spot for low-wage workers among their
midst – as shown in yet another successful
year of fund raising by the NTUC-U Care Fund,
which consolidates the Labour Movement’s
fund raising efforts.
For 2015, over $11.2 million has been raised
to provide assistance to low-income union
members.
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and
NTUC Care and Share Director Zainal Sapari
revealed this during a media sharing session and
later at a charity dinner to thank contributors.
The figure was unveiled by NTUC SecretaryGeneral (SG) Chan Chun Sing at the U Care
Charity Dinner held at the Orchid Country Club
on 23 July 2015.
“It does reflect that there are still people out
there who believe in the cause that we are doing
and they are still willing to contribute to provide
assistance to our low-income union members,”
said Mr Zainal.
SG Chan said on his Facebook: “NTUC
takes a concerted effort to better the lives of
As a Labour
Movement, it is in our
DNA to look after the lowwage workers. The acid test
for the Labour Movement is
really what are you doing
to help the workers at the
bottom.”
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and
NTUC Care and Share Director Zainal
Sapari
our low-income union members. Through
the progressive wage model, our workers
earn more with better skills and better jobs.
Through NTUC-U Care Fund, we help union
members stretch their dollars when they
purchase daily necessities. U Care Fund also
provides Back To School vouchers for their
children.”
Also present at the event were NTUC
President Diana Chia and nearly 950 donors,
union leaders and corporate executives.
FUND RAISING TARGET
With an additional $0.5 million garnered in
memory of the late founding Prime Minister,
Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the total amount raised was
$11,267,078.
An anonymous individual contributed
$173,950 in memory of the late Mr Lee
Kuan Yew.
NTUC FairPrice Foundation contributed
$2.6 million through the ‘Share a Heart coz
U Care’ campaign towards the U Care Fund.
The campaign pledged to donate $50 for each
bookmark signed by its customers and the
community. Over 50,000 bookmarks were
signed and collected from 1 May to 30 June
2015 through roadshows held at various
NTUC-affiliated unions’ events and also at
selected FairPrice outlets.
NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
LOW-WAGE WORKERS
Helping
Low-Wage
Workers
A quick look at some of
the key achievements by
the Labour Movement to
better the lives of
low-wage workers.
u
The Progressive Wage Model is estimated
to benefit some 74,500 low-wage workers
in the cleaning, security and landscaping
sectors when PWM is mandated in these
sectors progressively.
u
Since November 2013, the NTUC U Care
Centre (UCC) has reached out to more than
50,000 low-wage workers, and assisted more
than 5,500 on workplace issues.
u
UCC targets to reach out to 70,000
low-wage workers this year through its
various outreach events like road shows,
Appreciating U events and U Care seminars
in the heartlands.
u
In April this year, UCC also launched
monthly free legal clinics, with some 20 lowwage workers having sought advice.
u
UCC is in discussions with various partners
to make its services more accessible to
workers in the heartlands, as it works
towards establishing its satellite centres in
other parts of Singapore.
u
Also in discussions with the Manpower
Ministry is a Salary Relief Assistance
Scheme to help low-wage workers with a
one-time payment to manage their daily
cost of living issues in the event a company
goes bankrupt and is unable to pay workers.
Beneficiaries In 2015
Here are some of the ways in which the
funds raised will help the low-income union
members.
u
U STRETCH VOUCHER PROGRAMME: The U Stretch vouchers, amounting to
$2.675 million this year, will help low-income union members stretch their dollars
on daily basic necessities.
u
U CARE BACK TO SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAMME: It assists low-income
members defray the cost of their children’s school expenses for the new school
year. This year, the Labour Movement has set aside $3.8 million to help some
31,000 low-income members’ children.
u
REVISION OF THE INCOME CRITERIA: The eligibility income criteria for the
U Stretch and Back to School voucher programmes has been increased this year.
With the revision, some 11,000 more beneficiaries are expected to benefit.
15
16 LOW-WAGE WORKERS NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
A
JOB
WELL DONE!
The Labour Movement shows appreciation to
low-wage workers for their ongoing contributions.
By Fawwaz Baktee and Shukry Rashid
THUMBS UP!
To further reinforce the need to
appreciate low-wage workers, NTUC
U Care Centre (UCC) has unveiled
the Thumbs Up and Say Thank You
campaign.
Launched on 23 July 2015 at
AMK Hub, the event saw about 60
cleaners, security officers and landscape
technicians treated to a meal at NTUC
Foodfare. These workers also received
vouchers sponsored by the Singapore
Labour Foundation.
Collaterals such as posters, table
decals, wobblers and thank you
cards will be given to organisations
supporting the campaign. These
will also be placed in public areas to
encourage members of the public to
show their appreciation.
MORE APPRECIATING U EVENTS
Appreciation events were also held last month for cleaners at two venues.
ONE MARINA BOULEVARD
Appreciating U – Our Cleaners by NTUC’s Care & Share department.
71
cleaners
appreciated
$5,680
worth of red packets
distributed
$80
worth of vouchers given to each
cleaner were sponsored by NTUC
Enterprise, the Singapore Labour
Foundation, U Care Centre, Proventus
Co-operative, Mercatus Co-operative
and One Marina Property Services
DEVAN NAIR INSTITUTE FOR EMPLOYMENT AND EMPLOYABILITY
Appreciation U Tea-Reception by NTUC’s e2i (Employment and
Employability Institute).
60
cleaners, security
officers and
landscape
technicians
appreciated
Vouchers contributed
by e2i, tenants of
the institute and the
Singapore Labour
Foundation were given
to the attendees
Attendees
treated to a
light-hearted tea
reception
NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
PMEs
NTUC Secretary-General
Chan Chun Sing calls on
Singaporean PMEs to get
overseas work experience
and exposure to enhance
their chances to get to
the top.
By Ramesh Subbaraman
L
ook for opportunities beyond Singapore
for experience and exposure in working life
to enhance your chances of getting to the
C-Suite or the top position in your career.
That was the message from NTUC SecretaryGeneral (SG) Chan Chun Sing as he addressed
Professionals, Managers, and Executives (PMEs),
CEOs and thought leaders at the annual Future
Leaders Summit organised by the Labour
Movement, with the theme ‘Dream, Believe,
Achieve’.
GLOBAL COMPETITION
Speaking at the event on 24 July 2015, SG
Chan explained to his audience that as global
competition intensifies, Singapore’s PMEs must
not just have technical expertise and skills but
they also need regional and global exposure to
reach to the top of their profession.
OVERSEAS EXPOSURE
“This is where NTUC comes in. We are talking
to all the CEOs of all the big companies, trying
to create opportunities and partnerships to
allow our current generation of PMEs to get the
exposure when they are young,” said SG Chan.
NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun
Sing reaches out to PMEs at the Future
Leaders Summit 2015.
ALL ROUND EXPOSURE
He added that when it comes to exposure
overseas, don’t just think of travelling to and
working in New York, London and Shanghai.
Opportunities abound too in regional countries,
places where Singaporeans are often shy to go for
work exposure.
“Today, NTUC is not just concerned about
helping our PMEs find jobs, we are concerned
with the current generation of PMEs to get a
good placement. We are concerned with the older
generation of PMEs who might be displaced by
the rapid economic and product cycles.
“But more importantly, NTUC also wants
to look ahead, we want to make sure that the
next generation of PMEs by the time they
reach their middle age, when they have family
responsibilities, they are in the best position
possible to reach to the top positions,” he said.
TEAM SINGAPORE
SG Chan encourages young PMEs to look at
opportunities beyond Singapore. This will help
build a stronger Team Singapore and the nation
can look forward with pride and confidence to
SG100.
The Future Leaders Summit is a small effort
by the Labour Movement to allow up and coming
PMEs to gather such an experience to go forth
and conquer the world.
NTUC THIS WEEK
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18 WORKING WOMEN NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
PHOTO GALLERY
Here are some of the
participants at this year’s Best
Companies for Mums contest
Model Companies
The Best Companies for Mums contest returns this
year with a new award.
By Fawwaz Baktee
T
he Best Companies for Mums contest
held on 22 July 2015 at the Devan
Nair Institute for Employment and
Employability saw five companies clinching
the SG50 Special Award for their excellent
employee support schemes for working women.
The SG50 Special Award was a one-off category
introduced in celebration of Singapore’s 50th
year of independence. The winning companies
were Cerebos Pacific Limited, DBS Bank, KK
Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), Infineon
Technologies Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, and SP Services.
These companies have gone beyond the
statutory requirements of providing leave and
staff benefits.
The award recipients have also shown strong
dedication in helping employees attain work-life
balance through Flexible Work Arrangements
(FWA) and schemes that address the workers’
needs at different stages of their careers and lives.
FLEXIBLE SCHEMES
With 89 per cent of its employees being
female, SG50 Special Award recipient KKH has
implemented various forms of FWA such as
compressed work week, flexi-hours, job sharing,
and tele-commuting, giving its employees
the flexibility to choose their own working
arrangements and hours to help them manage
both work and caregiving commitments.
The hospital also offers part-time positions
for employees who can only work less than 35
hours a week while offering them the career
development of full-time staff. One employee
benefiting from this initiative is Nurse Clinician
Aveline Leong, 37, a permanent part-time staff
who works 3 days a week.
“Without such a scheme, I would have had
to make the very difficult decision to stay at
home rather than work. It’s been great. My
three kids are happy that I have four days at
home. With the four days, we are able to do the
activities which we would otherwise have less of
if I had to work every day,” said Ms Leong.
The hospital also has various employee
support schemes such as a lactation room and a
child care centre.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY PRACTICES
Into its third year, the Best Companies for
Mums contest also saw 60 other companies
and individuals honoured for their efforts
in creating a positive work environment for
working mothers and fathers.
Organised by NTUC Women’s Development
Secretariat (WDS) in partnership with the
Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive
Employment Practices (TAFEP), the contest
featured award categories such as the
‘Most Empowering Companies for Mums’,
‘Most Enabling Companies for Dads’, ‘Most
Supportive Supervisor’, as well as the SG50
Special Award.
Moving forward, WDS hopes to identify
100 companies from the contest to champion
family-friendly workplace practices.
“The availability of FWA at workplaces
remains one of the key concerns for women
who are considering to return to the
workforce, as well as for working mothers
to remain in their current jobs, as they need
flexibility in managing their work and family
responsibilities. However, many companies still
find it difficult to implement such practices and
are slow to take the first step.
“By showcasing positive examples through
this contest, we hope to strengthen
the awareness of FWA practices
and enlighten more employers
and employees to further
champion efforts in making
workplaces friendly and flexible
for workers,” said WDS Director
Sylvia Choo.
Nurse Clinician Aveline Leong has
more time to spend with her three
children after tapping on
a part-time scheme
offered by KK
Women’s and Children’s
Hospital.
NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
UNION
UPAGE Turns 20!
The Union of Power and Gas Employees (UPAGE) has been hard at work taking
care of workers’ interests amidst a changing energy landscape.
By Ramesh Subbaraman
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulating UPAGE’s General Secretary RKS Nachiappan on the union’s 20th anniversary.
U
PAGE is in an important industry
because energy is the lifeblood of the
Singapore economy. Without electricity
and reliable power supply, the city would have
been very different today.
Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong made
these points when speaking to union leaders
and employers from Singapore’s energy sector
at UPAGE’s 20th Anniversary Dinner on 20 July
2015. The union has nearly 5,000 members
currently.
ROLE IN RESTRUCTURING
PM Lee noted that one important thing which
Singapore did was to restructure the energy
sector. This has taken the nation 20 years to
achieve, leading to today’s industry and supply
being high quality, reliable and tip top.
He added: “The workers have benefitted
because your wages are high, your productivity
is higher and the industry has expanded. There
are actually more jobs in the industry today than
when we first started.
Through restructuring, the
energy sector now sees workers
having better wages and higher
productivity.
“But it has not been easy coming here
because every round of restructuring is
unsettling and painful. Sometimes there were
retrenchments, changes to pay structures and
certainly many changes to the way we worked.”
PM Lee stressed the journey has been
successful because the government had the full
cooperation, confidence and trust of UPAGE.
PAYING TRIBUTE
PM Lee also took the opportunity to pay tribute
to several of UPAGE’s leaders, among them the
late Nithiah Nandan who fought for workers till
the very end before he passed on.
Another leader was the first President of
UPAGE, Mr Abdul Rahman Mahbob, who rallied
the support of workers for the power industry’s
restructuring.
Turning to UPAGE’s current General
Secretary RKS Nachiappan, PM Lee said he has
carried the union forward, taking over the baton
from the late Nithiah Nandan. The latter will be
flowing on in August 2015.
IMPORTANT LESSONS
Addressing the gathering, Mr Nachiappan
shared some lessons he has learnt in his more
than 30 years of union life – among them, the
need to accept change and embrace life-long
learning.
The next lesson is the importance of union
leaders and management building trust and
confidence – which are at the heart of good
labour-management relations.
“Today, the priority is to extend reemployment to 67, open up the scope of union
representation to PMEs and press on with
the Progressive Wage Model. Here we call on
Singapore Power to take the lead and extend
re-employment to 67,” he added.
During the dinner, NTUC-U Care Fund
received a donation of $70,000 from UPAGE.
UPAGE has also been
active in adopting
the Progressive Wage
Model (PWM) among the
unionised companies.
Although wage growth is
above the national average
between 2010 and 2014,
the union can do more
to uplift the wages of its
members by boosting
their productivity through
upskilling. This can be
achieved with the tripartite
push for SkillsFuture.”
NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun
Sing’s message in UPAGE 20th Anniversary
Commemorative Magazine
19
20 NATIONAL DAY FOCUS NTUC This Week 26 JULY 2015
At The Front!
NTUC This Week chats with
our NTUC NDP contingent
commanders to find out what
it takes to head the march off.
By Geraldine Peters
THIS IS MY FIRST TIME PARTICIPATING AND
LEADING…
and marching is in itself a challenge for me even though
I have experienced it during National Service. Initially,
I thought I could not perform to expectations but after
going through the training, I am now quite confident.
AS CONTINGENT COMMANDER...
I am alone in front while my team
members help to guide me in the proper
direction to the proper position.
Best Foot
Forward
This year sees 22 unions participating in the
NTUC marching contingent for National Day,
the largest number ever.
By Ryan Chan
S
pirits were high, with passion burning strong among this year’s NTUC marching
contingent as they gathered before the rehearsal on 18 July to greet NTUC
President Diana Chia.
Her arrival was met with much excitement, as she gamely posed for photos and
actively engaged them. This year, there are 50 participants from 22 unions, the largest
number of unions to date.
“Their community spirit is high, and they have put in a lot of effort every Saturday
to come together and put their best foot forward. Our contingent this year is cohesive
and most importantly has the commitment to do so.
“Frankly, this experience has a very humbling effect on me to see them so high
in spirits despite all the tiredness. It is very inspiring for me, personally,” said
President Chia.
OUR CONTINGENT IS ALSO THE
FIRST…
to march out during the parade in this
special event so it has given me a good
opportunity to perform.
NAME: MR TOH HOCK POH
AGE: 58
OCCUPATION: QUALITY AND
SAFETY ASSISTANT MANAGER
UNION: PRESIDENT OF METAL
INDUSTRIES’ WORKERS UNION
(MIWU), AND NTUC CENTRAL
COMMITTEE MEMBER
ROLE IN CONTINGENT:
COMMANDER (2015)
IT IS MY FIRST TIME…
being part of a parade and it is very exciting and very
fulfilling. I have met a lot of nice people
along the way. I have no experience in a
uniformed group or in marching so they
(trainers and contingent members)
have provided a lot of guidance along
the way which I am very grateful for. It
is a team effort, so rather than saying
that I am leading them, they are also
guiding me.
NAME: MS EVELINE LEE
AGE: 30
OCCUPATION: FINANCE OFFICER
UNION: EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
MEMBER OF THE SINGAPORE
MANUAL & MERCANTILE WORKERS’
UNION (SMMWU)
ROLE IN CONTINGENT: DEPUTY
COMMANDER (2015)