“What a great way to start May Day, to see all of you in this sea of red, populating Downtown East once again”, said NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng.
The exuberant crowd of more than 1,000 Labour Movement and tripartite partners onsite cheered and clapped in agreement. It has been two years since the labour movement family could gather in such a fashion to commemorate the annual NTUC May Day Rally.
The exuberance hit a feverish pitch when NTUC President Mary Liew recited the May Day Resolution and led all to reaffirm their commitment to the Labour Movement.
Among the audience were Prime Minister Brother Lee Hsien Loong, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, NTUC Central Committee members, Ministers, Singapore National Employers Federation President Robert Yap, PAP comrades, NTUC affiliated unions and more.
SMOU leaders and staff were seen onsite and online joining in the spirit of comradeship to celebrate and recognise the workers’ hard work, tenacity and resilience.
PM Lee: In Singapore, unions are good for business
In Singapore, unions are good for business.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made this point in his May Day Rally address on 1 May 2022 to over 1,000 union leaders and tripartite partners at Downtown East.
The Labour Movement, he said, has been deeply involved in the hard work of transforming and upgrading Singapore’s economy, and improving the productivity of the businesses and workers.
“I deeply appreciate the many contributions of the Labour Movement. It represents the interests of a broad range of workers, beyond the traditional rank and file.
It helps bring Singaporeans together, so that people know they are not alone, and no one is left behind as our economy progresses,” PM Lee said.
As in past crises, the Labour Movement provided vital support to the workers. During the worst days of the pandemic, NTUC partnered the Government to extend lifelines to workers and with employers to help keep businesses afloat.
“This happens in very few countries, only in Singapore – and only thanks to the NTUC. This is tripartism in practice – a huge competitive advantage for Singapore.”
“I urge companies to nurture this strong partnership with the Labour Movement, and to encourage more workers, including PMETs and freelancers, to join the Labour Movement. This is our best strategy to continue progressing together,” commented PM Lee who went to underscore that companies with worker-centric practices will do well in the future labour market.
Tripartism, PM Lee highlighted, must always be a stabilising and anchoring force for Singapore.
“We must continually reaffirm the bonds, and sustain them from one generation to the next…The imperative to move forward, to renew, to endure and to transform ourselves has never been stronger,” he added.
PM Lee called on the Labour Movement to give the fullest support to Brother Lawrence Wong, who has been unanimously endorsed by all the People’s Action Party as the leader of the 4G team.
“The Government will do our part to safeguard our national interests, we will work with Singaporeans to find the best way forward. We will continue to cooperate closely with the Labour Movement to invest in every worker, to look after every worker, and to uplift every worker.”
“Employers have to grow their businesses, nurture their workers, so that they can give their best in their jobs.
“The NTUC must remain a strong institution, working shoulder to shoulder with the PAP Government to secure the trust of our people. This is the symbiotic relationship that has served Singapore well since our founding.
Together, let us keep Singapore safe and thriving for many generations to come,” PM Lee said.
Anchoring on the core purpose of NTUC and LM
NTUC and the Labour Movement must always remember to anchor on the core purpose of advancing the workers interests through better wages, welfare and work prospects.
NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng made this point at the May Day Rally held at Downtown East on 1 May 2022.
“We must refresh our workers compact in order to do that – to know the new generation’s worries, especially in those segments that are underserved.”
“We must bring the whole-of-integrated strengths of NTUC – what we called the W.I.N strategy, to bear on these issues, to brainstorm, co-create solutions with our workers, with our employment partners, and importantly, with our government,” Brother Chee Meng commented.
He thanked the government, NTUC affiliated unions and associations and
SNEF employers for their “steadfast support and trust in the Labour Movement” and for standing “shoulder-to-shoulder to take care of workers and get through the worst of times over COVID”.
In his speech, Brother Chee Meng reported how NTUC has been championing the interests of all workers of all collars, ages and nationalities – from the lower wage to the freelancers and PMEs; from the migrant workers to the women and youths in the workforce.
He gave full assurance to the Prime Minister that NTUC will “strengthen the symbiotic relationship with the PAP simply because it is good for the country, it is good for workers and it will create win-win outcomes for all of us”.
“Each generation of PAP leadership has taken pains to know NTUC’s needs better and we will likewise, give the PAP the assurance that NTUC will stand shoulder to shoulder with the PAP leadership so that we can do the very best for our country and for workers alike,” Brother Chee Meng said.
“Together with the government, we must strengthen tripartism as a uniquely Singaporean competitive advantage.”
Charting a Forward Singapore Agenda Together
In his maiden May Day Rally speech on 1 May 2022 at Downtown East, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong sought the support and full participation of the Labour Movement to develop a ‘Forward Singapore’ agenda.
This major undertaking of the 4G team will set out the roadmap for the next decade and beyond.
“Because the NTUC embodies the aspirations and concerns of all our workers,
we wouldn’t be here today without the NTUC; and we cannot get to a better place tomorrow without your support,” Brother Lawrence said.
While there is no ready blueprint for the Singapore of tomorrow, Brother Lawrence shared with the participants and guests at the May Day Rally that he would like to see “a fairer, greener, and more inclusive Singapore that we will always be proud to call home”.
“A home where everyone is accepted and valued, and treated equally and with respect, no matter their background or station in life.”
“A home where everyone can live with dignity, and flourish in their own way, and at their own pace, regardless of their starting points,” he said.
To make this a reality, “we can and must do as a people, together.”
In his speech, he gave this assurance, “whatever lies ahead, I will give every ounce of my strength to this movement, together with my comrades in the 4G team.”
“We will do whatever it takes to strengthen the PAP-NTUC symbiotic relationship and our tripartite partnership and to keep Singapore special. And build a better Singapore in SG75.”
Brother Lawrence called on NTUC and the Labour Movement to work together with PAP and tripartite partners to refresh Singapore’s social compact and move forward from a strong foundation to the next phase.
“With trusted partners like the NTUC who share with us the unwavering conviction that we must always do right by Singapore and our fellow Singaporeans,” Brother Lawrence said.