Union leadership development, future skills key among unionists’ concerns: Chan Chun Sing

October 28, 201511:08 am390 views

Union leadership development and future skills the workforce should be equipped with were key among the issues raised by unionists at the labour movement’s National Delegates’ Conference today (Oct 27), shared labour chief Chan Chun Sing.

Questions about union leadership development comprised about 40 per cent of the total questions asked, Mr Chan said, in a media briefing after the first day of the conference, organised by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

The questions were not about the “technical skills” of the union leaders but rather the leadership skills, such as how the labour movement can groom its next generation of leaders.

The labour movement will elect a new 21-member Central Committee for a four-year term from this year to 2019, through secret ballot on the last day of the conference on Thursday (Oct 29). Current president Diana Chia will be stepping down, after deciding not to stand for a new term.

The NTUC also shared the achievements of the last four years. Among them was the Progressive Wage Model, which was successfully implemented in three low-wage sectors – cleaning, security and landscape – and has benefitted more than 100,000 workers in 300 unionised companies.

The lowest twentieth percentile of workforce also received higher real wage increase in the last five years, and unionised rank-and-file workers had total wage increase of 4.9 per cent, slightly higher than the national average of 4.78 per cent, in the last four years.

And 616 unionised companies started moving towards the re-employment age of 67 years old, before the Government’s decision to legislate.

Asked about the target of one million union members the NTUC wants to achieve by the end of this year, Mr Chan, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said it is not just about the numbers. “It’s also the quality, it’s also the strength of the network,” he added. As of August, the NTUC has more than 888,000 members.

He also laid out other challenges the labour movement is facing – the changing business environment, employment landscape and needs of workers.

As such, the future of tripartism needs continuous work. For instance, Mr Chan said union members should know their fellow union members and workers, and also provide feedback of how people perceive issues and where areas can be improved.

When asked if it was difficult for the labour movement to recruit young workers, Mr Chan said it was not so, pointing out the labour movement has “quite a strong” NTUC nEbO movement – its youth movement. “Even before they join the workforce, we have people to help to prepare them to enter the workforce… not just in skills sets…(but) the kind of expectations they can expect to face when they are in the workforce,” he added.

As for attracting Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) to the labour movement, Mr Chan said the labour movement works with professional associations such as the Institution of Engineers Singapore, which is a U Associate member. U Associate links the labour movement with professional associations so that their members automatically become NTUC members.

He added that the PME group is looking for things like career progression and development opportunities. “So we will have to value add to their development just as we value added to our rank and file workers so for us we… try to understand the needs of the future workers and to help our future workers get ready for the future jobs,” he said.

Mr Chan also said the labour movement has been working on a framework to address the various challenges it faces. “In the last six months we have started discussions, so there are many ideas already that we have framed together,” he said.

The framework is expected to be shared tomorrow (Oct 28), after union members complete their discussions, he added.


news source & image credits: todayonline.com

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