ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Labour Movement to do more to boost workers' productivity: Chan Chun Sing
SINGAPORE: The Labour Movement will ramp up efforts to help workers upgrade their skills so they can boost productivity and earn better wages, said Mr Chan Chun Sing on Sunday (May 1).
In his first May Day Rally speech as labour chief, Mr Chan said Singapore is facing economic headwinds in the short-term, but there are also long-term structural issues looming ahead.
Workers must be prepared for such challenges and the Labour Movement will gear its focus towards this, he said.
Mr Chan emphasised that union leaders must mobilise workers to make use of resources available to upgrade themselves, pointing to the S$1 billion worth of SkillsFuture credit.
"We need to mobilise our working people to embark on a journey to embrace lifelong learning as a culture," said Mr Chan. "There is no point for the Government to put S$1 billion into the kitty, if we are unable to mobilise each and every worker to go and do what is right - not just for today, but always with an eye for tomorrow."
At the same time, Mr Chan pledged that unions will work with post-secondary education institutes, institutes of higher learning and private service providers to increase the number of timely and relevant training modules workers can access. This also applies to the PMETs.
"The best way for us to take care of our people is to make sure they have a good job and they can take care of themselves," said Mr Chan. "In every society it's like that.
"The more the middle-class can take care of themselves, the more we are able to focus our resources on taking care of those who really cannot take care of themselves."
The Government will also continue to provide support through initiatives like the Inclusive Growth Programme, which Mr Chan said has been extended for a few more years.
The SS$100 million programme launched in 2010 supports productivity improvement projects, for example, through technology and redesign.
Mr Chan also noted that while the Labour Movement's membership is strong, it is also growing its network to represent workers across more industries.
"The Labour Movement cannot be one that just serves a certain segment of society," said Mr Chan. "It requires us to serve workers across the spectrum of society. The Labour Movement must be a reflection of the structure of the economy.
"In order to meet the needs of the growing and more diverse group of workers, we must make sure our services continue to expand, and continue to meet the relevant and current needs of our workers."
At the same time, communications between union leaders and members must also be improved.
GROOMING LEADERS OF THE FUTURE
Mr Chan also announced the formation of a leadership council for the Labour Movement led by Deputy Secretary-General Heng Chee How. The council will look at how the workforce is changing and ensure a stable pipeline of union leaders going into the future.
Speaking on the sidelines of the rally, Mr Heng said: "The leadership that we have had so far is good, but with time, people age, and so, people move on.
"You must ensure that you will continue to have a good pipeline of leaders. This takes very careful, systematic and purposeful investment - you cannot leave it to chance."
He added: "You also need leaders to come from the PME segment together with those that we continue to draw from the rank and file.
"(This is because) the workforce structure is changing and you would want them to come from different industries as well, because we want a representative labour movement."
Meanwhile, both veteran union leaders and their younger counterparts agreed that it is timely to focus on leadership renewal.
"It's better to have it now rather than have it very late," said Mr Effendy Mohd Shariff, president of the Chemical Industries Employees' Union. "Because then it's like (forcing) somebody to take up the post, because (for example) at the age of 62, you have to step down.
"It's better to have the younger ones come in earlier to look at how you conduct meetings and learn about the labour situation."
Said Mr Seah Keng Tia, vice-president of the United Workers of Petroleum Industry, agreed: "Younger union leaders are using a different approach, whereby we are more rational, we weigh on things and look at different dynamics before making certain views and decisions.
The council, which will comprise members from the labour movement's central executive committee, will also focus on boosting its communication channels to better relay information to workers and gather feedback.
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