As Singapore goes ahead with restructuring efforts to transform its economy, the country’s labour chief Ng Chee Meng said that its labour movement is planning to focus on five areas to support workers, including pushing for better wages.
Speaking at his first National Day message as National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general on Tuesday (Jul 31), Mr Ng described workers as the core of the nation’s success. He also cited that Singapore’s economy had grown steadily this year, building on the 3.6 percent growth last year.
The five areas that need to be developed by the movement include helping workers get better pay and welfare, as well as have better job prospects. NTUC is also set to launch more progressive wage models (PWMs) for low-wage workers, which allows workers to receive higher pay when they are able to upgrade their skills.
Mr Ng said that loft technicians will be the next group to benefit from this wage ladder. He added that the labour movement will also explore implementing PWMs in other sectors.
Meanwhile, another area of focus is older workers, in which NTUC will work on a review of the retirement age of 62 and strengthen re-employment guidelines for them. This plan is in line with the work of a tripartite work group, initiated by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, to observe the issues faced by older workers in the country, including retirement adequacy.
The last area of focus is on helping workers cope with the cost of living through NTUC’s social enterprises, The New Paper reports.
Despite retrenchment and unemployment rates crept up slightly in the April-to-June period, Mr Ng noted tthat total employed has seen an increasing rate. Total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, went up by 7,100, a sharp rise from the growth of 400 in the first quarter.
Citing the rapid technological advancements and geopolitical shifts that are disrupting economies around the world, Mr Ng said, “How fast and how well we adapt, innovate and transform will decide Singapore’s fortunes and Singaporeans’ living standards.”
“The labour movement will do all we can to help. We ask our workers to press on and gear up their skills. We need to train up to keep up, skill up to move up,” he added.