Tripartism must always be a stabilising and anchoring force for Singapore especially in tackling challenges and opportunities to come, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Mr Lee gave his May Day Rally address on 1 May 2022 to over 1,000 union leaders and tripartite partners at Downtown East.
“Our tripartite partnership has made a big contribution both to our economy and our cohesion. It is our uniquely Singaporean way of conducting labour relations. Where Government, employers and unions are close partners working for a common cause, coming up with win-win solutions across many different issues over decades.
“It is how we have come through uncertain times and crises in the past. And it is what we continue to need, to remain united and successful in the future,” he said.
The challenges include the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on the national and global economies, and the rising cost of living.
Mr Lee added that the Government is doing all it can to cushion the impact on Singaporeans and alleviate cost-of-living pressures.
“The Household Support Package in this year’s Budget contained many direct measures to help households … MAS [Monetary Authority of Singapore] has tightened our monetary policy to reduce imported inflation. That is why the Singapore dollar has appreciated. And we are taking steps to secure food and energy supplies just in case supplies are disrupted by the ongoing war.
“All this will help, but we must be prepared for more economic challenges in the year ahead.”
Mr Lee also warned of the possibility of a global recession within the next one or two years.
Mr Lee also thanked the Labour Movement for its role as a partner to employers and the Government, and to have provided support to workers during times of crisis.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Labour Movement worked with the Government to extend lifelines to workers, and with employers to help keep businesses afloat.
“I deeply appreciate the contributions of the Labour Movement. It represents the interests of a broad range of workers, beyond the traditional rank-and-file. It helps bring Singaporeans together, so that people know they are not alone. No one is left behind as our economy progresses,” said Mr Lee.
He also urged companies to nurture the partnership with the Labour Movement and encouraged workers such as PMEs and freelancers to join the Labour Movement.
“This is our best strategy to continue progressing together. In Singapore, unions are good for business,” he said.
Mr Lee also sought backing from union leaders for Finance Minister Lawrence Wong as Mr Wong prepares to take on the leadership of the 4G Government.
“Brother Lawrence Wong will be taking on a heavy responsibility. He will have to lead Singapore in a very different and uncertain world. He will need the full support of his Cabinet colleagues. He will also rely on all our brothers and sisters to work with him, and to continue partnering him and his future team. Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to give Brother Lawrence Wong and his team your fullest support,” said Mr Lee.
Mr Lee added that the imperative for businesses and the workforce to transform has never been stronger.
“We are emerging from the pandemic, into a world that has not only been altered by COVID-19, but threatened by significant global security challenges. We can feel the headwinds, even as we sense new opportunities opening up. For us, change and transformation will be an unending task, as we continually reinvent ourselves to maintain our place in the world,” he said.
Mr Lee is also confident that tripartite partners will continue to work together to overcome any challenge.
“The Government will do its part to safeguard our national interests, and to work with Singaporeans to find the best way forward. It will continue to cooperate closely with the Labour Movement to invest in, look after, and uplift every worker.
“Employers must grow their businesses, and nurture their workers so that they can give their best in their jobs.
“The NTUC must remain a strong institution, working shoulder to shoulder with the PAP [People’s Action Party] Government to secure the trust of our people. This is the symbiotic relationship that has served Singapore well since our founding. Together, we can keep Singapore safe and thriving for many generations to come,” said Mr Lee.