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NEWS UPDATES 28 July 2010

Singapore PM Lee calls for more productivity

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said there's a need for wage flexibility even as Singapore's economy is projected to hit record growth this year, Channel News Asia reports.

Speaking at the Singapore National Employers' Federation (SNEF) 30th Anniversary CEO and Employers Summit, Mr. Lee cautioned against locking in higher wages which may be justified this year, but cannot be sustained if conditions change.

And he said conditions will change.

Wage settlements should also factor in the one per cent increase in CPF contribution rates this year.

He added that wage increases this year should also be split between the basic salary, the monthly variable component and the annual variable component.

Mr. Lee said he hopes that in a tight labour market, employers will be similarly prudent in their approach to wage settlements.

However, he said the most basic and critical flexibility is that of mindsets.

In a dynamic environment, management and staff alike need to adopt a positive attitude and be willing to do different things to get the job done.

He said workers will adopt flexible mindsets only when there is high trust within the firm.

They will go the extra mile for the company only when they are confident that management will uphold their end of the bargain, and not forget workers' sacrifices in bad times when things improve later

He urged employers to foster a corporate culture that emphasises openness and trust.

In line with this, SNEF will launch a new initiative on Productivity and Trust Leadership, aimed at CEOs.

It will work with the Singapore Management University to run Productivity Leadership seminars for CEOs.

SNEF will also develop workshops to help SMEs hire, retain and develop talent.

He added that Singapore's tripartite efforts should now be directed towards a new challenge which is improving productivity.

This is essential if Singapore's to remain competitive in a new environment.

He said being productive means creating maximum value out of limited resources.

In the first quarter, Mr. Lee said Singapore's productivity jumped 13 per cent.

But he cautioned that this was a cyclical increase, the result of a tight labour market and more overtime work, a reverse of what happened last year, when the economy contracted and productivity fell.

Mr. Lee stressed that Singapore cannot be satisfied with this one-off blip, but must persevere to raise productivity on a sustained basis in good years and bad.

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