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02 Jun 2022
3 mins
Minister Iswaran Engagement with Maritime Unions

Tripartism has always been an important cornerstone of Singapore’s Maritime industry. Harmonious labour management relations and collaboration among unions, employers and the government have been key to the success of Singapore as a global maritime port.

On the 1st of April 2022, Minister for Transport S Iswaran, along with officials from Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) came down to the SMOU office to engage with Maritime unions. At the discussion table were Senior Minister of State and NTUC Deputy Secretary General Mr Chee Hong Tat, MPA Chief Executive Ms Quah Ley Hoon, SMOU General Secretary Ms Mary Liew, Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) President Mr Kam Soon Huat and representatives from MOT, MPA, SMOU and SOS.

The discussion surrounded the topic of the Singapore core, and attracting and retaining local talent in the maritime industry. Minister Iswaran kicked off the discussion by acknowledging strong tripartite ties, and thanking unions for working closely with MPA. He touched on the importance of local talent and the need to do more to attract them into the Singapore maritime industry saying that the skills and experiences gained from the sector can be an open door to many other jobs.

Mr Chee added that the labour movement will need to work closely and journey with workers by helping them stay relevant and see the long-term prospect of their career.

While maritime is a key pillar of Singapore’s economy, attracting and retaining of talent in the industry has been one of the focuses of tripartite collaboration. Ms Mary Liew said, “Tripartite partners can do more for the core group of Singaporeans.” She shared on how SMOU has also been supporting the Singapore Core through the Tripartite Maritime Training Award (TMTA) programmes which have recruited and trained about 400 local cadets and close to 100 today are seafaring officers.

To continue building and supporting the Singapore Core, Ms Quah Ley Hoon shared on some of MPA’s new maritime initiatives to attract more talent and businesses to value-add to Singapore’s ecosystem. One of which was the Sail Milestone Achievement Programme (SailMAP) which MPA thanked the unions and the Singapore Navy for their support on. Representatives from MPA shared on the objectives of the SailMAP programme, and how it will incentivise more Singaporeans to join and contribute to the Maritime industry.

Partnership with the Singapore Navy will allow the recognition of skillsets gained from National Service in the Navy, as well as encourage students of maritime studies to continue in their education and career pursuit in the maritime field.

Other suggestions that were brought to the table include the shortening of required sea-time, image of seafaring captains and chief engineers, mental wellness of seafarers and positioning Singapore as an ASEAN Training Centre for seafarers in the region.

The maritime industry is still a vibrant one, abounding in opportunities. Minister Iswaran concluded the session by talking about the potential of new technology in Maritime, learning from practices in the aviation industry, and training to give Singaporeans an edge above the rest.

With the SailMAP being the latest initiative rolled out to support the Singapore maritime core, continued collaboration and conversation amongst tripartite partners will be the key to the competitiveness and future of our industry.