The interests and welfare of our working people are major concerns of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). As the voice of working people, we listen to them and champion their interests from the ground. As such, NTUC has been working tirelessly with our tripartite partners – employers (Singapore National Employers Federation) and the government (Ministry of Manpower) – to champion for fair, inclusive, and progressive workplaces.
We actively call for reviews in national policies and employment practices to advance working people’s interests and address their concerns and ensure policies have a positive impact on them in the long term. We also advocate for protection of workers from unfair treatment at their workplaces.
To date, we have successfully lobbied for several legislation and initiatives that have helped to create better workplaces and working environments for our working people.
NTUC at Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM)
NTUC at TADM
provides immediate assistance on workplace-related matters to U Network members (Unions, U Associate, U PME, U SME and U FSE) who walk in to TADM. Union members who are part of U Network will benefit from NTUC’s extensive expertise and close support throughout the entire process. For the others who are part of U Network, they can also enjoy free basic advisory services when they walk in.
TADM acts as a mediator for the employees and employers. If mediation does not resolve the dispute, one can choose to have his/her claim heard at the Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT).
ECT is established under the State Courts and adjudicates statutory salary-related claims under the Employment Act, Retirement and Re-employment Act and Child Development Co-Savings Act. The ECT also hears contractual salary-related claims.
Industrial Relations Act (IR Act)
Advocating for the rights of our workers and protecting their interests, are of utmost importance to NTUC. To serve and protect the needs of our rank and file workers, the Labour Movement – NTUC and its network of affiliated unions and associations – look to the Industrial Relations Act (IR Act).
The IR Act regulates a trade union’s function in employer-employee relationships, particularly, in the prevention and settlement of trade disputes by collective bargaining, conciliation, arbitration and tripartite mediation of individual disputes. This forms the core of the Labour Movement in how we help workers at the workplaces.
With the fast-evolving demographics of our workforce, the Labour Movement saw the need to introduce various initiatives to include Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) into our fold. Pushing to allow our rank and file unions to be able to collectively represent PMEs, the Labour Movement mooted for the amendment of the IR Act and tabled a Bill in Parliament in November 2014.
From 1 April 2015, the IR Act has been amended to allow a rank-and-file union, recognised by the employer, to represent an executive employee in the organisation. The representation can be on a collective basis between an employer and the trade union; or on an individual basis for re-employment disputes in addition to the current areas of unfair dismissal, victimisation, retrenchment benefits, and employment contract breaches.
Protection of Harassment Act (POHA)
To ensure safe and healthy working environments as well as to better protect workers and individuals from harassment and related anti-social behaviour, the Labour Movement lobbied for the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA), which eventually came into effect on 15 November 2014.
Under the POHA, offline and online harassment, stalking, cyber-bullying, and other types of anti-social behaviour are considered criminal in Singapore. It also covers both intentional and unintentional harassment and, for certain offences including online ones, has extra-territorial jurisdiction. This means that POHA protects victims from offences committed against them when they are in Singapore – and the offender knows or ought to know that fact - at the time of the offence.
The new law also extends the protection accorded public servants to public service workers such as public healthcare or transport workers. There are provisions allowing the victim to apply for a protection order against the offender as well.
Progressive Wage Model (PWM)
In 2012, NTUC introduced the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) to help lower wage workers earn a better living by helping them move up the four distinct ladders of skills upgrading, productivity improvement, career advancement, and wage progression.
To date, the Labour Movement has made good progress through PWM across our various industry-specific clusters in partnership with our tripartite partners: Aerospace and Aviation; Building and Facility Management Services; Education; Electronics and Precision and Machinery Engineering; Financial and Business Services; Healthcare; Hospitality and Consumer Business; Infocomm and Media; Marine Engineering; Oil, Petrochemical, Energy and Chemical; Public Service; and Transport and Logistics.
Notably, the Labour Movement has successfully pushed for PWM to be a mandatory licensing criteria in low-wage sectors such as cleaning and security. This ensures that employers would have to send their workers for skills upgrading, adopt productivity initiatives and plan out structured career pathways and progression, and ultimately, higher wages for their workers.
We will continue to focus on leveraging PWM to improve workers’ wages sustainably.
Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA)
The Labour Movement and government have been encouraging businesses to adopt Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) measures as part of a Work-Life Strategy that will enable workers to better manage their jobs and personal and family commitments.
FWA would include staggered working hours where the employee can choose when they start and end work, part-time work, flexible hours where the employee is contracted to work a set number hours over an accounting period, telecommuting, compressed work schedule where the employee works the same number of hours a week in fewer days, interim work where the employee is hired on a project-basis, and job sharing.
Such practices have been shown to increase worker efficiency and productivity, widen the talent pool, aid talent retention, save costs, and improve employee morale.
Workplace Safety and Health Act (WSHA)
The Labour Movement has been encouraging businesses to align themselves with the national Workplace, Safety and Health (WSH) 2018 Strategy, which aims to reduce the workplace fatality rate to 1.8 per 100,000 workers by 2018. It represents the workers’ perspectives on WSH initiatives and matters and at the same time, endeavours to raise WSH standards.
Under the WSHA, stakeholders – employers, organisations, occupiers in charge of the workplace, manufacturers and suppliers, those who install or erect the machinery and equipment, and the employee – have to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of persons at the workplace. The WSHA seeks to reduce risks at the source, encourage industries to take greater ownership of safety and health outcomes, and imposes higher penalties for poor safety management and outcomes.
Apart from legislature, WSHA also includes certification and registration, monitoring and surveillance, accident reporting, and work injury compensation.
Retirement and Re-Employment Act (RRA)
In response to an ageing population and the longer life expectancy of the average worker, the Labour Movement has been championing and promoting re-employment practices in the unionised sector since 2006.
In 2012, the Retirement and Re-Employment Act (RRA) came into effect, making it mandatory for employers to re-employ eligible employees beyond the retirement age of 62, up to 65, and who were able and willing to continue working. The legislature replaced the original Retirement Act which set the mandatory age of retirement at 62.
From 2013, the Labour Movement again led the call to raise the re-employment age from 65 to 67, while continuing to monitor the re-employment situation and advocating for the implementation of good age management practices in companies. In September 2014, the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers issued an advisory to raise the re-employment age from the current 65 to 67 years old.
Another milestone was achieved when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at the National Day Rally 2015 that the re-employment age will be raised from 65 to 67 by 2017.
Click here to download the U Live Re-employment Guidebook for a quick overview of the revised Tripartite Guidelines for Employing Older Employees.