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NTUC May Day Message 2023 By President Mary Liew and Secretary-General, Ng Chee Meng, National Trades Union Congress

We believe in standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our tripartite partners to tackle whatever challenges that come.
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25 Apr 2023
Mary Liew and SG.jpg NTUC President Mary Liew and NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng
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Since NTUC's founding in 1961, we have seen many changes occur.

Our labour market is evolving, with an ageing workforce and an increasing number of PMEs, and self-employed persons.

Our operating environment is also changing, with troubling geostrategic developments and economic uncertainties, coupled with rapid developments in Industry 4.0 technologies that will reshape work. As we enter the post-pandemic world, our challenges have only grown.

Workers around the world are today locking horns with their employers and governments. Strikes are used to express unhappiness over stagnant wages, retirement age, unfair work conditions, and an inability to cope with the rising cost of living.

The combative approach is not the NTUC approach. We believe such an approach would only bring lose-lose outcomes ultimately to involved parties and society as a whole.

Instead, we believe in standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our tripartite partners to tackle whatever challenges that come.

Our good relationship with our tripartite partners would not be possible without the strength of our union leaders. They hold and move the ground. With them, plans turn into action. They lead the way and set an example for all workers to follow.

Our Government provides much-needed support to the work we do. It led our country out of the pandemic and puts its weight behind initiatives that support our workers and businesses.

The Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and our employer partners have also worked hand-in-hand with NTUC to protect workers during challenging business conditions.

Together – we create win-win outcomes for all. Together – we will improve our workers’ wages, welfare, and work prospects.

The Value of Workers

One outcome we are prioritising is securing your position as a worker in the future economy. We want to ensure that all workers keep pace with transformation and are not left behind. We will ensure your value to our employer partners remain.

Through the training that our Training and Placement Ecosystem provides, we will help you increase your value.

To date, 1,300 Company Training Committees (CTC) have equipped over 100,000 of our workers with skills to secure better wages and work prospects. More workers must benefit from this.

Therefore, to our employer partners, we urge you to continue working with us, primarily through the CTC and our Operation and Technology Roadmap, to transform your business and train your workers.

The Labour Movement also stands by the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) to help uplift the wages of our lower-wage sisters and brothers.

By July 2023, some 135,000 workers including those in waste management, retail and food services sectors, will benefit from higher wages through the PWM. Again, the higher wages of workers in these sectors are made possible by increasing their value through better skills and better productivity.

We will continue working with our tripartite partners to support more companies adopting the PWM.

The Value for Workers

Every worker has the right to job security and protection. Regardless of your profession, age or nationality, your interests are our interests.

If you are a platform worker or self-employed person, we will work to ensure you get the protection you need.

NTUC has been working with our tripartite partners to ensure you receive adequate financial protection against work-related injuries, improve your retirement and housing adequacy through Central Provision Fund (CPF) contributions, and your right to seek formal representation.

For tradesmen such as plumbers and electricians, we will work to improve your wages and work prospects. To do this, we will continue to push for the adoption of our proposed Career Progression Model.

While we know wages and work prospects are essential to our workers, we also acknowledge that family commitments are equally important.

For workers with caregiving needs, especially women, we will continue to encourage employers to help you balance work and family commitments by implementing flexible work arrangements. We believe such initiatives can give more women the confidence to return to the workforce.

For our older workers, you now have a longer career runway with higher retirement and re-employment ages. But we also understand that you may want to continue working even longer.

We will continue to advocate raising the retirement and re-employment ages further for you. On top of this, we have lobbied to raise your CPF contribution rates to help you grow your retirement nest egg.

To our PMEs, we will ensure you benefit from fairer employment practices. To achieve this, we are now working with our tripartite partners on the Workplace Fairness Legislation. We want you to have equal opportunities for career progression and lend you support when you find yourself unemployed involuntarily.

To our youth, you are our future.

What you do today will shape tomorrow’s economy. We know you are concerned about career planning, financial adequacy and mental well-being. While we cannot prepare for every eventuality, we will work to equip you with the skills to succeed. We will be there for you, and we will walk alongside you every step of the way in your career journey.

The Value of Tripartism

When we stand together, we harness collective power that will hold us in good stead.

The Singapore Labour Journal is one example of how we create value through tripartism. The journal was developed by bringing together representatives from unions, employers, government agencies, think tanks and Institutes of Higher Learning.

With the journal, we increased awareness on issues surrounding employment and workers’ rights. We will continue our partnerships to translate research into real-world solutions and improve the quality of life for all workers.

As we celebrate May Day, NTUC would like to thank all unions, union leaders, and government and management partners for joining us in our effort to create better lives and livelihoods for our workers.

More importantly, we are confident that our solid tripartite relationship will continue to create a win for our workers, a win for our employers and a win for Singapore.


Happy May Day!