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NTUC Wants To Do Better To Support PMEs As PMEs Now Make Up 45% Of Membership Base

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25 Apr 2024
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~ NTUC will continue to do even more to support PMEs in workplace protection,
career progression and job placement ~

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and its affiliated unions have been championing the interests of Professionals, Managers, and Executives (PMEs) over the years. In particular, NTUC and our affiliated unions have been speaking up and taking action for PMEs in terms of workplace fairness and protection, career progression and job placement. Ahead of the NTUC May Day 2024 celebrations, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng (SG) outlined these during a media session. He also shared how NTUC will continue to step up efforts to support PMEs as they now form 45% of the membership base. He also called on PMEs to join as members.

Background - Increasing Number of PMEs and PMETs in the Workforce

In Singapore’s dynamic workforce today, resident PMETs make up approximately 63% . Between 2013 and 2023, 258,000 resident PMEs joined the workforce. NTUC and its affiliated unions have recognised the need to step up efforts to better serve this group of workers. Efforts have also been made to better understand their workplace challenges and issues. Through NTUC initiatives like the Joint NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce in 2021 and #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations in 2023, along with union engagements, NTUC has attentively listened to and addressed the evolving aspirations, needs, interests, and concerns of PMEs. From these interactions, NTUC noted that PMEs are seeking more robust support to safeguard against job losses and access employment and job-related training opportunities.

Enhancing Workplace Fairness and Levelling the Playing Field for PMEs

Sharing updates on the Joint NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce’s nine key recommendations (See Annex A), SG Ng acknowledged that the PME Taskforce and tripartite partners have made significant strides on the key recommendations aimed at enhancing workplace fairness and levelling the playing field for jobs in Singapore to benefit PMEs. Here are some highlights:
One such key recommendation is NTUC’s collaboration with tripartite partners and the Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP) to certify 12,000 HR professionals in Singapore by 2025. This endeavor aims to elevate HR standards and practices across companies through training, certification and accreditation of HR professionals, as a means to enhance workplace fairness for PMEs.

To date, over 75% of the projected 12,000 HR professionals in Singapore have already been certified by IHRP, demonstrating the effectiveness of tripartite efforts in transforming the HR landscape for the benefit of our workers, especially PMEs.

Another key recommendation also contributed to the acceptance of the Workplace Fairness Legislation by the Government to provide the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) with legislative powers to investigate, enforce, and penalise errant companies.

NTUC also sought to level the playing field for local PMEs by giving them fair access to job opportunities. After taking heed NTUC's call to level the playing field for local PMEs, MOM launched the COMPASS (Complementarity Assessment) framework, where Employment Pass (EP) applicants are assessed via a points-based system, in addition to meeting a qualifying salary benchmark. The COMPASS framework evaluates EP applications based on a holistic set of individual and firm-related attributes. MOM has involved NTUC in awarding 10 bonus points under the Strategic Economic Priorities (SEP) Bonus [Criterion C6]. This is to recognise and endorse progressive companies that are committed to working with NTUC to strengthen local workforce development through either NTUC’s Company Training Committees (CTCs) or participation in Government-supported programmes.

Supporting PMEs through Workplace Representation

PMEs, like other worker groups, can be vulnerable to job insecurity and sudden loss of jobs too. SG Ng highlighted the recent Lazada case, where NTUC and the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU) stepped in to protect the interests of union members, many of whom are PMEs. This resulted in an enhanced financial package for affected members who can expect to hear about disbursement soon.

Through TADM@NTUC, where about 40% of cases are PMEs, TADM@NTUC has helped these PME members with disputes that have resulted in financial compensation for them, with the highest recovery settlement recorded at $68,000 since 2021.

NTUC has also been supporting PMEs by stepping up workplace representation through our affiliated unions and associations. This has resulted in more unions now representing PMEs.
As of April 2024, NTUC has 58 affiliated unions and 7 associations including:
• Unions comprising mostly PME members across various sectors. For example, the Air Transport Executive Staff Union (AESU) played a crucial role in protecting PME members during COVID-19 and worked closely with companies to manage cost cutting measures to save jobs then.
• Another union that is increasingly representing more PMEs is ST Engineering Staff Union (STESU). The union has increased their scope of representation to include PMEs and has assisted PMEs with their workplace issues and wage negotiations.
• Associations like Tech Talent Assembly (TTAB) and Singapore FinTech Association (SFA) are also predominantly PME-focused.
These developments reflect our ongoing commitment to amplify the voices of PMEs in the workplace and taking action to better represent and protect PMEs’ interests.

Elevating PMEs’ Career Progression and Wages

NTUC’s Company Training Committee (CTC) and CTC Grant initiatives also highlight how we have been helping PMEs with career progression and improved wages. To date, CTC Grant projects have resulted in a total of 727 PMEs from 61 companies gaining an average wage increase of 5% on top of their annual increment or benefitting from a career development plan.
A notable example is that of ST Engineering, a unionised company under ST Engineering Staff Union (STESU), which has demonstrated a commitment to improving employee welfare, wages, and career development. The Group has a total of 12 CTC Grant projects across its Land Systems, Commercial Defence Aerospace, and Marine businesses. ST Engineering Land Systems spearheaded four projects which had impacted 77 employees, of which 31 employees or 40% are PMEs .

Assisting PMETs in Career Transition and Placing Them in Jobs

NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) also launched a new Career Centre at One Marina Boulevard, its first in Singapore’s bustling Central Business District (CBD), in April 2024. The e2i Career Centre at OMB aims to offer enhanced support, offering workers, especially PMETs, tools, job opportunities, and resources to bolster their employability skills and stay abreast of industry trends. Notably, nearly 90% of those who walk into the e2i Career Centre seeking employment and employability assistance are PMETs, with about half of them earning a monthly salary of over $8,000, which is indicative of the centre's relevance and appeal to the professional workforce. Thus far, e2i has had an equity advisor, cyber security manager, and even a COO from the finance sector visiting the career centre.
One of such PMETs assisted by e2i is Ms Nantana Boon Chuay Seng, 46, currently a senior consultant at a reputable IT company. e2i assisted her by providing tailored assistance to help Ms Nantana identify her career objectives and requirements, which resulted in her finding a new career in the IT company. (See Annex B for full profile details)

Achieving a Significant Milestone in NTUC’s PME Membership Base
In terms of PME membership, PMEs today now make up 45% of the NTUC membership base (excluding migrant workers and student nEbO members) as compared to national figures of 42%.

As such, NTUC is committed to increase its efforts to better serve all workers, including PMEs, so that they would receive the necessary support in employment and employability. Looking ahead, SG Ng urges more PMEs to join NTUC so that it can continue to amplify their voices and bolster PMEs through various initiatives aimed at enhancing their wages, welfare and work prospects.
SG Ng said, “PME numbers will continue to increase and form a vital part of our workforce. Today, 45% of our membership comprise of PMEs. We are committed to providing them with the support they need for career protection, progression, and placement. PMEs facing career or workplace challenges can be rest assured that NTUC is here to walk alongside them. We want and will do better by you. Thus, I call on PMEs to join us so that we can champion your interests.”