SINGAPORE: The Labour Movement in Singapore has cautioned against the trend of negative productivity and urged the Government to turn this around as soon as possible.
Several MPs representing workers made this call in Parliament during the first day of the Budget debate on Tuesday (Mar 3). To enhance productivity, they also urged the Government and employers to spur job and process redesign across the different industries.
Singapore’s labour productivity has not performed up to expectation, even as the country works to transform its economy. Earlier targets aimed to increase productivity by two to three per cent a year until 2020.
But these targets have not been met, with labour productivity even falling into the red in recent years.
MPs suggested ways to improve it, including enhancing value-add.
Said Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Heng Chee How: “To enhance value-add, we must make sure that jobs, work processes and technologies are designed and redesigned in that direction. Clearly, we are not seeing enough outcomes in this area. The picture is not even. There is faster productivity growth in the export-oriented sectors because it is do or die when confronting international competition.”
“The picture is much more mixed and feeble for the domestically oriented sector. Unless and until we can move this piece of the jigsaw, we will just be trying to cut more wood by sawing harder instead of changing to a better and sharper saw,” he added.
Companies can improve job redesign of their workplace through the WorkPro scheme introduced in 2013. They can tap on grants to facilitate job redesign and encourage recruitment of back-to-work locals and mature workers. However, the scheme has not seen a strong take-up rate.
The Labour Movement is now calling for a review of the scheme and for it to be enhanced for greater reach and impact.
Said Mr Zainal Sapari, Assistant Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC): “On a short-term outlook, we need a lot more concerted coordination in ramping up our productivity measures across all the sectors. We need more than just funding support. Industry players will have to come together to iron out the gaps. For a start, there must be a more aggressive tripartite initiative to improve productivity through job re-design.”
Some said freelancers should also be included in productivity efforts.
Mr Ang Hin Kee, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General said: “As we help companies and individuals to be innovative and be future-ready, let us do the same for freelancers. Can we also be more inclusive in our formulation of strategies to include freelancers? Help them expand their footprints in overseas markets, take up assignments and projects overseas.”
Relevant agencies have also been urged to look into every job type and assist freelancers and self-employed workers.