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May Day Rally 2024: Singapore’s industrial harmony is a result of Tripartism and trust, not a natural state of being

Labour chief calls on all stakeholders to guard against complacency amidst escalating global tensions and conflict.  

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Mr Ng said it is imperative to remain vigilant amidst uncertainty, noting that concerns about societal pressures such as inflation, income inequality, and social divides have fueled increased labour strikes worldwide.

 

He cited examples in the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Korea, where worker strikes have recently been seen among all worker types, reflecting growing discontent over issues ranging from pay disparities to technological disruptions.

 

Mr Ng said: “Thankfully, in Singapore, we have enjoyed industrial harmony for decades. But sometimes, we start to think that this harmony is the natural state of things, come what may.

 

“But this is not true. We need to guard against such complacent thinking. Industrial harmony is not the natural state of being. It takes careful nurturing, give, and take.”

 

Mr Ng attributed Singapore’s industrial harmony to tripartism and the trust built between NTUC, the Government and employers.

 

“Tripartism remains key to Singapore’s success. To achieve economic growth, and to achieve better wages, better welfare, and better work prospects for all workers, including PMEs,” he added.

 

NTUC’s achievements

 

Mr Ng said that, unlike unions in other countries facing declining membership, NTUC has grown its membership base by more than 30 per cent in the past three years.

 

NTUC now has more than 1.3 million members.

 

Mr Ng also said that NTUC has championed workers’ interests across all segments, including youths, caregivers, mature workers, lower-wage workers and PMEs.

 

He highlighted the success of the Company Training Committees (CTCs), with more than 2,100 formed to date across different sectors of the economy.

 

Mr Ng emphasised that NTUC is also better protecting PMEs, citing examples such as the COMPASS framework, the upcoming Workplace Fairness Legislation, better HR practices and representation during retrenchments.

 

“Our unions can protect all members, regardless of whether they are in. Blue- or white-collar jobs, rank and file, or PMEs,” he said.

 

Tribute to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

 

Mr Ng also paid tribute to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The May Day Rally was Mr Lee’s final one as Prime Minister.

 

Mr Lee is set to pass the premiership baton to Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who will be sworn in as Singapore’s fourth Prime Minister on 15 May 2024.

 

Mr Ng said that, as the leader of the country, Mr Lee made remarkable contributions to the Labour Movement.

 

He added that Mr Lee has advanced workers’ interests and strengthened the partnership between the People’s Action Party and NTUC.

 

Workers have also benefited from initiatives such as the Progressive Wage Model, SkillsFuture and the Jobs Support Scheme, Self-employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) during COVID-19.

 

Mr Ng pledged support to Mr Wong as incoming Prime Minister, adding that his journey with the Labour Movement has been longstanding.

 

“The Labour Movement looks forward to continuing our strong partnership with you to benefit Singapore’s workers and for the prosperity of the nation,” said Mr Ng.

 

Click here for an overview of May Day 2024.