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29 May 2024
5 mins
SMOU General Secretary Sister Mary Receives Top May Day Award

This year’s May Day Award presentation was especially significant for SMOU.

It was with pride and joy to witness the Union’s General Secretary Mary Liew receiving

the Labour Movement’s top May Day Award, the Distinguished Service (Star) Award for her four-decade long dedication towards the advancement of workers’ wages, welfare and work prospects.

The award presentation, held on 10 May 2024 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, also marked a milestone with the highest number of awardees since the award inception in 1963.

Sister Mary led the list of 179 awardees, including 42 organisations, who were recognised for their exemplary service and dedication to the Labour Movement.

Addressing the Singapore workers, Sister Mary was quoted as saying: “It is because of you that we are where we are today, having the opportunity to be able to reach out to you, and it is because we care for you, that is why we take action.”

This year’s award presentation also saw SMOU Assistant Treasurer, Brother Tan Geh Ting, receiving the Comrade of Labour award, and Brother Lars Kastrup, Chief Executive Officer of Pacific International Lines (PTE) Ltd, the Medal of Commendation. They were also nominated by SMOU.

Sister Mary’s citation reads:

“Before she was elected to the NTUC Central Committee in 2011, she had advocated workersrights as a union leader since 1982. Sister Marys platform for advocating for workers expanded in 2012 when she represented NTUC as a Nominated Member of Parliament (2012 – 2014). She was subsequently elected as the president of the NTUC Central Committee in 2015.

Often regarded as a unifying force during her tenure with the central committee, Sister Mary demonstrated how unions can support communities and strengthen the social compact so no worker gets left behind as Singapore progresses.

As a Labour Movement leader, Sister Mary has championed the interests of all workers, from lower-wage workers to freelancers and professionals, managers, and executives (PMEs).

While her representation at the annual National Wages Council has helped secure quantitative guidelines for higher wage increases for lower-wage workers, she has also concurrently pushed for workplace fairness and career progression support for PMEs and increased protection and representation for freelancers and self-employed workers.

Thanks to her contributions, businesses and the workforce continue transforming and adapting to new economic environments, and more workplaces have embraced flexible work arrangements.

Sister Marys advocacy to protect seafarers and recognise them as essential workers in the global economy during the COVID-19 pandemic has left an enduring mark. She has provided practical and invaluable advice at the congress level (such as NTUC Industrial Relations, Membership and Training councils), the national level (such as Future Economy Council and National Wages Council), and the international level as an International Deputy Member of the WorkersGroup in the International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing Board and as Vice-President of the International Transport Workers(ITF) Federation.

She is also a Board Director of NTUC Enterprise Co-operative Ltd.

For her contributions to the nation and her fellow workers, Sister Mary was awarded the Public Service Medal, Public Service Star (COVID-19), and Public Service Star (BBM) in 2017, 2022, and 2023, respectively.”

Comrade of Labour Award for Brother Tan Geh Ting

The Comrade of Labour Award is conferred on “serving trade unionists who have made significant contributions to their unions, for more than five years, and are still active in their Executive Committees”.

Comrade of Labour award recipient, SMOU Assistant Treasurer Brother Geh Ting, has been a union member for 43 years, serving as a union leader for 32 years. He was Assistant Treasurer from 2008 to 2013 and resumed the role in 2018.

He served on the Welfare Committee from 1997 to 2013 and then the Industrial Relations Committee from 2013 to 2018. Currently, he is a member of the Finance Committee since 2018.

“As part of the Finance Committee, he ensures the union is financially stable and continuously supports various members’ welfare benefits and training initiatives. He is always ready to advise on any investment initiatives,” the May Day Award citation highlighted.

Medal of Commendation for Brother Lars Kastrup

The Medal of Commendation, conferred on Lars Kastrup Chief Executive Officer Pacific International Lines (Pte) Ltd for “besides promoting good industrial relations and initiating workers’ training and skills upgrading programmes, also supported Labour Movement and its initiatives”.

Brother Lars Kastrup staunchly advocates for progressive workplace practices, fair and competitive compensation for the sea and shore employees of PIL. Under his leadership, in 2023, PIL successfully executed an upward wage adjustment for all its seafarers.

Since assuming the CEO role in July 2022, Brother Lars has prioritised efficiency improvements across the company, while focusing on the health, safety, and welfare of all employees, both at sea and ashore.

The upcoming launch of the PIL Academy aims to provide holistic training for all shore and sea employees, supporting them in realising their full potential. Brother Lars’ advocacy for promoting Singaporeans in seafaring careers aligns with PIL’s commitment to nurturing local talent and exploring new opportunities for job redesign in the maritime sector.

Our heartiest congratulations to Sister Mary, Brother Geh Ting and Brother Lars Kastrup!