It’s not easy to run a labour movement in a country where employment is high, job markets are tight and salaries are pretty decent. In fact, it was just in today’s newspaper that employers are raising warnings about high wages in Singapore.
In such a guarded system, there are still screws to tighten and help to be rendered to people who have fallen through the net.
Of these, the greatest worries to the movement are mature workers, low waged workers and PMEs.
Amongst the problems that mature workers faced, is that of ageism; the conscious discrimination by employers towards workers that are of age. They face the stereotype of being expensive and “over qualified”, or that they’re not “fit enough” to work.
NTUC, through its organisation e2i has developed a web of assistance targetted at helping these workers.
At the National Day Rally last night, the Prime Minister gave the example of one Gerard Peck, who is in his 50s. Having worked for 30 years at a bank doing IT security, Gerad left the bank last year and found it hard to find a new job.
He then found out about e2i’s Career Support Programme and signed up for it. The programme helped his new employer pay a portion of his wages for some time and made it easier for the new employer to take him on. With the e2i’s help, Gerard landed a job as Head of IT at Datapost early this year. Datapost is an SME in printing and mailing solutions and is the biggest print bureau in the region. Gerard’s former banking experience has helped Datapost to transform their IT system, and develop new business strategies
This is just but one example. There are some others that haven’t been mentioned.
At the rally, disruptive technologies such as Uber were being discussed. The PM assured Singaporeans that the Government understands that these technologies are beneficial to Singaporean consumer markets as a whole and would not step-in to ban them. There is regulation to preserve quality and safety, but on the whole the Private Hire drivers are allowed to continue.
The group that needs assistance though, are the drivers. PM Lee then thanked Ang Hin Kee of the NTUC for his involvement in mediating between the drivers, the taxi operators and the Land Transport Authority. Ang was also involved in the setting up of the new Private Hire Vehicles association. The synergy amongst these organisations, with NTUC as the catalyst, helped tame an otherwise outrageous technology that has sparked controversy, riots and protests in other countries.
There are many instances of the Labour Movement doing good work which hasn’t been mentioned in the Rally. The preservation of industrial harmony for one. The steady increase of salaries is another. There has been many examples of assistance to individual members (Mr. Tan Whee Boon, the victim of a food poisoning case is but one example) and also the work in traditional industrial representation continues to be the bedrock of the movement.
Would you also not agree with the Prime Minister that NTUC is doing good work in Singapore?