This article was adapted from NTUC.
NTUC, Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) reaffirmed their commitment to support workers’ training and companies’ transformation during the NTUC Ordinary Delegates’ Conference (ODC) 2021 on 17 November 2021.
Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat was the guest-of-honour at the event. He was accompanied by Manpower Minister Tan See Leng; SNEF President Dr Robert Yap; NTUC President Mary Liew; and NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng.
There were some 500 union delegates, key tripartite partners and guests who physically attended the opening session of the conference, with another 600 union, Government and employer representatives tuning in virtually.
Together, the tripartite partners officiated the launch of the NTUC LearningHub’s Learning eXperience Platform (LXP); a one-stop mobile application which they say will be the key enabler for both workers and companies to upskill and re-skill as part of their lifelong learning.
Mr Heng said that the LXP will serve as the online learning management system for Company Training Committees (CTCs). Companies can create job-specific content, put them on the platform, and track their workers’ progress.
“This is one example of how the Labour Movement brings together different parts of its eco-system in a more complete way – driving transformation and building capabilities through the CTC, and helping workers grow through the LXP,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of SNEF, Dr Yap said that many companies have been impacted by the pandemic, and that they are now eager to review their business strategies and operations in a bid to recover and grow.
“SNEF fully supports NTUC’s push for workers’ skills upgrading through the LXP so that they can complement our companies’ efforts to stay nimble and navigate the troubled waters,” he said.
Dr Tan said that as Singapore’s economy restructures and recovers from COVID-19, the workforce needs to develop the right skills to meet changing needs of industries and businesses.
He said: “I am heartened by NTUC’s efforts to support workforce and business transformation through this new app. The MOM and Workforce Singapore will also continue to help our workers meet their career aspirations, secure quality jobs, and build a better future.”
The ODC is a two-year stock take of the objectives laid out during the last NTUC National Delegates’ Conference (NDC) in 2019, to ascertain the progress made thus far.
Mr Ng also released his report on the Labour Movement’s progress over the last two years, reiterating NTUC’s core purpose of improving the lives of workers through the betterment of Wages, Welfare and Work Prospects.
Saving Jobs, Protecting Livelihoods
Since the last National Delegates’ Conference (NDC) in 2019, Mr Ng said that the Labour Movement has done well to help workers avert the full brunt of the pandemic.
“We have literally helped save thousands and thousands of jobs and livelihoods amidst COVID-19 through the different initiatives we have undertaken,” he said.
Acknowledging the ground efforts by the unions over the past two years, Mr Ng shared how unions like the Food, Drinks & Allied Workers’ Union (FDAWU), the Singapore Manual & Mercantile Workers’ Union (SMMWU) and Singapore Airlines Staff Union (SIASU) moved quickly to help workers in depressed sectors secure jobs in other industries.
He also expressed his appreciation for the workers in the healthcare services and teaching sectors for their tireless contributions in sustaining the nation’s healthcare and education system.
“I sincerely thank all of you, union leaders, delegates, tripartite partners and my staff in NTUC for the wonderful work and the difference you have made in dealing with COVID-19,” he said.
2019 NDC Goals on Track
Mr Ng also shared that the Labour Movement has achieved beyond the goals set out during the 2019 NDC.
“When we committed to ‘Dream. Dare. Do’, I did not expect the achievements that we have managed to achieve,” he said.
Despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, the Labour Movement called for the increase of the retirement and re-employment age, as well as for improvements to be made to workers’ CPF contributions. NTUC led the way and raised the organisation’s retirement and re-employment ages before legislation in 2022.
The Labour Movement also ramped up its expansion of the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) into more sectors, such as the waste management, retail and F&B sectors.
“We are not only impacting thousands of workers, but in the next five to 10 years. We will uplift hundreds of 1000s of workers through our progressive,” he shared.
In the area of SMEs, which NTUC had very little presence back in 2019, the congress has made significant progress, on-boarding some 300 SMEs over the last two years.
As for the area of freelancers, beyond traditional partners such as the National Taxi Association (NTA) and the National Private Hire Vehicle Association (NPHVA), NTUC has also made inroads in its representation of even more freelancers in other sectors such as delivery and the arts.
Today, NTUC represents more than 48,000 freelance workers.
Mr Ng shared that NTUC has also taken significant steps in its representation of PMEs.
He said: “It is still a nascent presence that we have in the workforce… We hope to be able to understand PMEs better so that we can represent their interests, cater to their needs, and embrace another segment of the workforce that will eventually become even more prominent in Singapore.”
Lastly, Mr Ng also shared that NTUC has surpassed its one millionth member mark – an objective that was set by former NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say.
“It is a very difficult endeavour, but it is also an indication of the fruits that we bear [after] we have undergone membership innovation,” he said.
Core Purpose of NTUC
Summing up his opening speech for the ODC, Mr Ng shared that the core purpose of NTUC must always be to care for workers, and to ensure that they are able to live their best life possible.
“At NTUC, we will serve our members first, workers always,” he said.