The industrial relations landscape in Singapore is characterised by the tripartite relationship between the Labour Movement, Government, and employers. During the early days of Singapore’s independence in the 60s, industrial actions such as strikes, which disrupted daily lives and crippled the economy, were common. The NTUC Modernisation Seminar in 1969 was a turning point when the Labour Movement made a critical decision to move away from a confrontational to a cooperative approach with employers.
Since then, NTUC and our affiliates have stayed committed to working with management through good and bad times with the longer term view that workers must be rewarded should they stay with companies to ride out tough times by taking short term pains. At the bipartite level, the common experience of unions and management working together, and the trust that has been built has reaped positive outcomes.
Beyond just unions and management, Singapore’s unique model of tripartism — which sees unions, employers and Government working together — has also played a key role in the harmonious labour landscape and success we enjoy today. Key to this relationship is the collaborative manner in which all three parties approach labour-management relations. This collaborative stance has helped us weathered through many crises, ensuring that workers are taken care of even in times of difficulties.
One area that harmonious industrial relations has been brought to bear is workers’ wages. The Labour Movement has been pushing for the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), with its emphasis on productivity, skills and progression pathways, to be more prevalent across industries.
In particular, the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage workers released a set of key recommendations in 2021 to:
Lower-wage workers will be further uplifted as PWM is expanded to other sectors and occupations progressively i.e. Retail from 1 September 2022, Food Services from 1 March 2023 and Waste Management from 2023; extend existing Cleaning, Security and Landscape PWMs to in-house workers from 1 September 2022; introduce new Occupational Progressive Wages to Administrators and Drivers from 1 March 2023. Coupled with efforts through the annual National Wages Council (NWC), lower-wage workers not covered by PWM have enjoyed healthy wage increases in a firm commitment by Tripartite partners to uplift the lower-wage workers.
NTUC continues to adopt a collaborative and consultative approach in dealing with industrial relations matters. Union members working in unionised companies may seek advisory and representation from their respective unions when they encounter workplace issues and grievances.
Under Providing Better Service to Workers - NTUC's membership has surpassed the 1 million mark as at end 2021. With the increase in membership numbers, comes the need to provide better welfare for all members. In 2021, NTUC engaged 330,000 members on membership matters across its customer service touchpoints, achieving a membership experience rating of above 89 per cent for overall satisfaction. Addiitonally, 108,000 membership applications, transactions and assistance programme were processed for members.
Here are some ways we are uplifting the welfare of our workers: