To tackle the challenges which it will face, the NTUC last week introduced its three key thrusts which its work will centre around from now till 2019.
Along with it, the NTUC National Delegates’ Conference (NDC) elected its 21-member Central Committee (the highest decision-making body) to take the labour movement and its work forward into the next four years.
The 3 key thrusts expands into 12 other areas which the NTUC will focus on.
And for the typical Singaporean worker, here’s how the 12 areas will affect you and me.
1.) Progressive Wage Model/Progressive Wage Ladder
Who will it affect: All workers
Why: Many have the misconception that the Progressive Wage Model is meant for the 3 low-wage sectors (Cleaning, Security, Landscaping). However, labour chief Chan Chun Sing has highlighted that the Progressive Wage Model “must spread to cover every sector”
Who will it affect: All workers (especially staff from the tripartite partners)
Why: At the International Forum on Tripartism (IFT), Singapore showed to the world its brand of tripartism, which was validated by the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, Guy Ryder.
As announced by Chan, officers from the civil service and leaders from the unions will be cross-posted and cross-attached to strengthen the tripartite partnership. This move will help both parties better understand policies and ground sentiments.
3.) Develop NTUC’s Social Enterprises
Who will it affect: Workers and their families
Why: Chan highlighted that the focus for the Social Enterprises will be to deliver an integrated package to meet the evolving needs of Singaporeans.
“There are some new priorities for social enterprises…particularly in the area of eldercare, healthcare, healthcare cost management, childcare and student care services, and food.”
4.) Creating a Positive & Safe Work Environment
Who will it affect: Low-wage workers, women, elderly workers and migrant workers
Why: The labour movement will continue its efforts to help the low-wage workers, women workers, elderly workers and migrant workers through the various departments and communities within the NTUC.
With the recent industrial accidents happening in the last few months, the labour movement will also work with the companies and MOM to “reduce these to a minimum, if not to eliminate this where possible.”
5.) Protection (Collective Barganing/Collective Agreements)
Who will it affect: All Workers (Especially Freelance and Contract workers)
Why: New forms of employment such as freelancers and contract workers are increasing. These come with a different set of challenges. Hence, Chan said the labour movement will move to provide greater protection for these group of workers and it “will go beyond collective agreement and collective bargaining…We will work with MOM to better protect our workers.”
6.) Enhancing the Singaporean Core
Who will it affect: All Workers
Why: Chan highlighted that the Singaporean Core is not about the number, but it is about the quality of the jobs. Hence, NTUC will work with MOM and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) to look at the various industries in detail to see how to strengthen the skillsets of Singaporeans.
7. & 8.) Dispute Resolution & National Advocacy
Who will it affect: All Workers
Why: The NTUC will continue to pay attention to these conventional issues in order to be fair to the workers of Singapore.
9.) Strengthening NTUC’s Membership and Network
Who will it affect: All Workers (especially PMEs and workers in SMEs)
Why: Chan has said that the focus is not on the membership number but the strength of its network.
He says this will be done through the outreach to the PMEs through the U Associates programme, and the outreach to the SMEs through the SME programme, together with the various communities in the labour movement.
10.) Developing leaders and stewards
Who: Union members and union leaders
Why: Union members as well as union leaders are likely to change jobs more frequently in the new work environment. Hence the challenge for the labour movement is the development of union leaders.
To tackle this, the NTUC will develop a new leadership development programme which will allow leaders to be groomed even as they change jobs or industries.
The NTUC will also place emphasis on stewardship not just in terms of financial management, but also on governance. “It also refers to the development of the next-generation leaders, because all union leaders are but stewards of their unions and the causes that their unions represent.”
11.) Improving Communications and Engagement of NTUC’s members
Who will it affect: Union members
Why: With close to a million union members with diverse backgrounds, the NTUC recognises the need to review and intensify its communications and engagement modules.
This also means that there will be different platforms where union members and non-union members can be reached and engaged.
12.) Equipping Union Members with Future Ready Skills
Who will be affected: All Workers
Why: The NTUC has representatives on the SkillsFuture Council which is the body tasked with driving the national movement to provide Singaporeans with the opportunities to develop their fullest potential all through life, regardless of their starting points.
The labour movement will work with MOM and the MOE in order to make sure that union members are equipped wit future-ready skills to remain competitive in today and tomorrow’s market.
While all these may seem daunting, labour chief Chan Chun Sing is not alone in this endeavour. He leads the 21-member Central Committee, as well as the 600 union leaders and branch officials which will take the union movement forward.