DPM Wong: Workers Must Become More Productive to Ensure Long-Term Wage Improvements

Mr Lawrence Wong urged tripartite partners to push for skills upgrading and productivity improvements to counteract the uncertainties of the global economy.
By Ian Tan Hanhonn 28 Sep 2022

Given the uncertainties of the current global economic climate, the only sustainable way to ensure that workers’ wages and lives improve in the long run is to become more productive and competitive, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

Mr Wong was speaking on 28 September 2022 at the National Wages Council’s (NWC) 50th-anniversary dinner.

The dinner was attended by over 200 tripartite representatives from the Government, trade unions and employers.

In his speech, Mr Wong said that it would be difficult for Singapore’s workforce to sustain the past wage and productivity growth it has achieved.

“We must therefore redouble our efforts to encourage skills upgrading and productivity improvements for our workers and businesses,” he said.

Mr Wong added that the Government has been encouraging skills upgrading through its Industry Transformation Maps and that the NWC has been calling for employers and workers to commit to more structured training and workplace innovation.

Helping Businesses Transform

Mr Wong shared that he understood the challenges businesses and workers faced regarding transformation and advised companies to work with NTUC.

Through NTUC’s Company Training Committee initiative, companies can translate broad transformation strategies into actionable plans.

Additionally, Mr Wong said businesses could tap on the Support for Job Redesign under the Productivity Solutions Grant and other reskilling programmes offered by Workforce Singapore.

“These recommendations send a strong tripartite signal that we can all do more to pursue inclusive growth in Singapore. At the heart of these efforts is a fundamental desire to uplift workers and improve lives,” he said.

Appreciating NWC Efforts

In his speech, Mr Wong also gave thanks to the contributions of the NWC, particularly for its contributions over the last two years during the height of the pandemic.

“[The NWC] provided timely, even-handed guidelines for employers to stabilise the situation and minimise the impact on workers as much as possible,” he said.

He also described the NWC as an indispensable institution in Singapore’s unique system of tripartism, contributing to a much more stable and progressive approach to labour relations.

“The NWC has cemented its place as a central institution in Singapore’s economic infrastructure.

“I have every reason to believe that, with the support of tripartite partners, NWC will continue to be a forward-looking and unifying force in our country and society,” he said.

About the NWC

The NWC was formed in 1972, amidst a period of rapid industrialisation which led to rising wage expectations from workers.

The Government became concerned that the rising wage expectations would lead to serious industrial disputes, thus weakening Singapore’s attractiveness to foreign investments.

The NWC was thereby tasked to formulate wage guidelines for Singapore’s workforce, so as to be in line with country’s long-term economic objectives.

Today, the NWC has moved away from issuing quantitative recommendations to more qualitative guidelines, so as to allow for more flexible wage negotiations.

In celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the NWC, a set of commemorative stamps have been created to mark the occasion.