What else needs to be tweaked in the Labour Movement?

Chan Chun Sing_2_0

We now know that NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing will take over the helm from outgoing Secretary-General Lim Swee Say from 4 May onwards.

Chan promised to build upon Lim’s work and legacy. But here’s a few things we hope can be tweaked and made better in the labour movement:

blue-collar worker

1.) SkillsFuture

Yes, the labour movement supports the Manpower Ministry’s slew of SkillsFuture initiatives. But what can possibly help union members especially PMEs (Professionals, Managers and Executives) is perhaps making employers implement a policy that will make it compulsory for employees to make use of the SkillsFuture credits to attend courses relevant to the employee’s nature of work.

 

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2.) Wages: Low & Middle

The progressive wage model has been implemented in two sectors – cleaning and security, with a third one – landscaping – in the pipelines.  But there should be a greater push for more companies to buy in to the progressive wage model in order to push up the wages of the low-wage earners.

But there should be a push for companies to implement a progressive wage model for the middle-income employees as well in order that wages can go up sustainably with productivity increases.

 

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3.) Progressive Wage Model (PWM)

As mentioned above, the PWM should be made more ubiquitous in the negotiations between unions and companies. If it really is for the good of workers, then the PWM should be a key point within the agreements to uplift the livelihood of workers.

 

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4.) An eye on the Government

In many ways, the labour movement should continue to be the eye on the government in its push for productivity, job opportunities and in the fair consideration framework.

If the focus is to boost the Singaporean core in the workforce, then the unions can help to keep an eye on companies to consider Singaporeans first in their hiring.

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5.) Industrial Harmony

The workforce already enjoys a harmonious tripartite system, between employers and the government. But perhaps more could be done to have better collaboration? Especially since Minister Lim is due to cross over to the Manpower Ministry.

 

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6.) Women at work

Perhaps the labour movement can help to push for more companies to adopt practices that allow mothers to return to the workforce.

In fact, it can also encourage companies to returning mothers by offering incentives to do so.

 

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7.) Employer behaviours

We know some employers are not as cooperative as others in their relationship and dealings with unions. Some may not be as willing to agree with unions when negotiating collective agreements. But the labour movement needs to be more firm in negotiating more for union members, after all the welfare of the union members is the main concern of the unions.

8.) Freelancers

Representing freelancers is one new area that the labour movement is venturing into. So perhaps the way to better represent freelancers is to know about their key concerns and problems, such as their CPF contributions which is close to nothing because they are not in a direct hire arrangement.

 

These are just some of things within the labour movement that needs to be tweaked and improved on. And I hope that as Minister Chan takes over the helm from May, he can make a difference of the livelihood of Singaporean workers and build a better place for Singaporeans.

 

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Arthur Lee

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