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Tan See Leng: Unions play a vital role in helping workers thrive in Singapore

The Manpower Minister added that unions play a leading role in realising the Government’s plans for the country.

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By Ian Tan Hanhonn 17 Nov 2023
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Manpower Minister Tan See Leng reaffirms the Government’s commitment to work closely with unions such as The Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers’ Union (SMMWU) to ensure Singapore remains a society where every worker can thrive, adding that unions play a vital role in ensuring the vision comes to fruition.


“SMMWU has over 100,000 members and a proven track record of advocating for workers’ rights and championing their welfare. We are counting on you to bring along your members and play a leading role in translating our plans and ideas into concrete action,” said Dr Tan.


He was speaking at SMMWU’s 64th Annual Dinner on 17 November 2023, held at the Orchid Country Club.


The event was also graced by Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, NTUC President Mary Liew, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng, NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Desmond Tan, and NTUC Central Committee Members.


The SMMWU is NTUC’s largest affiliated union, representing mainly commercial and service workers in the private sector.


Drawing inspiration from SMMWU’s crest


Dr Tan used the elements from SMMWU’s logo to illustrate how the Government, employers and unions must work together to help Singapore succeed.


He shared that the role unions play is symbolised by the mechanical wheel, representing the important role unions play in bringing workers along with Singapore’s progress.


Dr Tan also took the opportunity to thank SMMWU union leaders for their support in the implementation of the Retail Progressive Wage Model, saying that their work has provided retail workers with a clear career progression with sustainable wage increases.


The three interlinked rings reminded him of the importance of tripartism, he added.


He said: “Tripartism is Singapore's competitive advantage and positively impacts the lives of our workers. For instance, this year’s guidelines by the National Wages Council encourage employers to reward their workers with wage increases or variable payments that are fair and sustainable. We must continue to uphold the tripartite spirit.”


Referencing the red background, he shared that he was reminded that every worker should be treated with fairness and respect.


“Next year, we will enact the Workplace Fairness Legislation or WFL. I ask for your support in raising awareness of this milestone legislation.


“Together with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, the WFL will send a strong signal that there is no place for workplace discrimination in Singapore,” he said.


Finally, with reference to the yellow star, Dr Tan said that it represents “a clear vision and a bright future”.


Citing the Forward Singapore Report on how the Government wants every job to be respected and rewarded, he reiterated that the Government is committed to supporting all workers.


He said: “We will empower Singaporeans to take charge of their career health. We will invest in Singaporeans and nurture and develop those with the potential to shine as specialists and leaders in their respective fields.”


“We will further narrow wage disparities and uplift our lower-wage workers. We will help the involuntarily unemployed to bounce back better from unemployment shocks, and we will enhance retirement measures to ensure seniors can retire with peace of mind.”