PAP and NTUC Must Strengthen Symbiotic Relationship in Tandem with Industry and Worker 4.0, Says AUPE General Secretary Sanjeev Tiwari

AUPE GS Sanjeev Tiwari was one of the guest speakers at the PAP Convention 2021.
28 Nov 2021

NTUC and the People’s Action Party (PAP) must work to upgrade their symbiotic relationship as Singapore moves into an uncertain and volatile future.

NTUC Central Committee Member and the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees General Secretary Sanjeev Tiwari made this call 

“My worry is that with the passing of time, we may have gotten comfortable of the relationship between the PAP, NTUC and the unions. We may be taking it for granted that it will stay this way,” said Mr Tiwari.

He added that both PAP and NTUC would need to work on what he calls Symbiosis 4.0 as Singapore looks at achieving Industry 4.0 and Worker 4.0.

“We need to work on Symbiosis 4.0 and beyond ... to reinforce the foundations, and rethink of our relationship and how this will fit into the current scheme of things and be future ready too,” he said.

Bring Back Deep Connection

He also urged union leaders, PAP party members and workers to bring back the deep connection between themselves and move beyond the transactional aspects of the relationship.

“Between the PAP and the NTUC, we have very good structures, policies and even support mechanisms. However, the deep connection, that ‘feeling’ in the relationship is what seems to be eroding between the two networks. We need to bring this back into the relationship,” he said.

To strengthen the nexus between the party and the unions, the PAP government must explore new initiatives and deliver them in partnership with the Labour Movement and unions, suggested Mr Tiwari, adding that the unions can help to operationalise and be the front for these initiatives.

Mr Tiwari said the relationship between PAP and NTUC can be further strengthened by moving their collaborative work beyond the leaders and key representatives of both sides.

He cited the push for NTUC’s company training committees, the youth and women’s chapters, union officials assisting at meet-the-people sessions and MPs as union advisors as some of the ongoing collaborations.

“We must move it [the collaboration] to all members of our organisations and not just among the senior ranks. More importantly, these efforts and outreach must transcend beyond not just the vulnerable groups like the elderly, the low income. [But also] to the PMEs, the sandwiched class, gig workers, other groups of workers in the new, hybrid and emerging growth sectors, where issues may be different from the past.

“The value of the partnership must not only be heard but be felt by the ground. The party’s connection with the workers is utmost important. They are represented in every household, and in some, there are more than one working person. These are the same people who will feel the work of the party and the Labour Movement, and in turn provide their support, influence, and votes. We must be able to address their concerns and aspirations,” said Mr Tiwari.

Support from the PAP Government

Mr Tiwari also said the work of NTUC and unions to represent, advocate, and provide support to workers would be an uphill task without the proper support from the PAP government in setting the right policies and alignment.

Mr Tiwari added: “We need the right partner. One that works with the Labour Movement, one that goes beyond stating economic theories, is strong and credible, has the same shared values, and most importantly deliver on its promises for the betterment of all our workers and for a sustainable Singapore.”

He also assured the party members that workers and unions will reciprocate and give PAP their support as long as the current and future leaders of the party remember their purpose and promise to continue to ensure better wages, welfare and work prospects for workers in Singapore.

In his speech at the convention, Singapore Prime Minister and PAP Secretary-General Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged and supported Mr Tiwari’s call to continually reinforce the bonds between NTUC and PAP.

“The Labour Movement has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the PAP throughout this [COVID-19] crisis – helping workers and families, engaging employers to preserve jobs, keeping a finger on the pulse. Ours is a symbiotic partnership with the NTUC.

“I look forward to party and union activists doing much more together, advocating side-by-side for each other, and making sure that workers at all levels feel and appreciate the value of the partnership,” said Mr Lee.

The PAP Convention 2021 saw more than 2,000 PAP activists in attendance through a hybrid event format at Suntec Convention Centre.

The convention also saw the party reaffirm its commitment to journeying with Singaporeans, doing right by Singaporeans, and seeing Singapore safely through the COVID-19 crisis.