A chat with Cham Hui Fong

The Straits Times did an exclusive interview with NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Cham Hui Fong over the weekend to talk about the recent CPF recommendations by the NTUC.

Cham Hui Fong

Here’s 10 things you need to know from the interview:

  1. The recommendations were compiled over four sessions

Yes, four focus group sessions were held last year to compile the recommendations from 250 union leaders young and old, low-wage workers, older workers and women, as well as PMEs (Professionals, Managers and Executives), youths and families.

  1. Employer groups reacted strongly to one of the recommendations

The employers reacted strongly to the call for higher CPF contribution rates for workers aged 50 to 55. They lamented that it will lead to higher labour costs. Ms Cham said that it is always a bad time to raise costs. But when the NTUC expect wages to go up, costs will inevitably go up.

old workers

  1. NTUC wants employers to be fair to older employees

Unless employers have good, reasonable grounds to really explain why older workers are not cost-effective, they have to find ways to restructure the job.

  1. The NTUC hopes for the CPF system to be reviewed regularly and to be updated

It hopes that the Government should set a time-frame for review, once every three years.

  1. There were opposing views in the four sessions of discussion

With different groups of people comes different opinions and views. During the discussions on the partial withdrawal of CPF, one group felt that by allowing the withdrawal will lead to the temptation to actually withdraw.  Another group felt that the money in CPF was their own money, so they should be allowed to make the decision.

  1. The NTUC leaves the decision to CPF members

The NTUC will not make the decision for CPF members. It is their money, as stated by Ms Cham. This is why the NTUC decided to recommend the need for flexibility where members are allowed to draw down a partial lump sum.

  1. NTUC will continue to help boost salaries

Salaries, CPF contribution rates and interest rates are the few factors that boost CPF savings of members. Hence in the last few years and moving forward, the NTUC will do a lot more to see how it can boost workers’ salaries.

CPF

  1. The NTUC thinks the Government can do more

The NTUC is of the view that interest rates that the Government is giving now are good, but it believes that it can be improved further.

  1. Employees must do their part too

For employees, one way for them to boost their CPF savings is to continue working and upgrading themselves, in order to see positive outcomes.

  1. The NTUC hopes that at least half of its recommendations go through

The Labour Movement is seizing the opportunity to take a look at the areas under the review and to let the Government know that these are the voices that the NTUC has been hearing from the ground. It hopes that at least half of its recommendation will be accepted; some not immediately and others will be subject to further review.

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Arthur Lee

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