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NTUC expresses support for Lawrence Wong’s appointment as Prime Minister

The Labour Movement looks forward to working closely with Mr Wong to build a more prosperous, inclusive, and resilient Singapore for all.

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(Photo credit: MCI)

 

The Labour Movement has expressed its full support for Lawrence Wong as Prime Minister, adding that it looks forward to working with him.

 

Mr Lawrence Wong was sworn in as Prime Minister on 15 May 2024.

 

In a letter to Mr Wong, signed by NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng and President K Thanaletchimi, the Labour Movement added that Mr Wong’s longstanding association with the Labour Movement reflects a deep-rooted dedication to championing workers’ rights, wages, welfare, and work prospects.

 

The Labour Movement said that during Mr Wong’s tenure as Finance Minister, he has championed tripartite initiatives to enhance workers’ lives and advance the principles of tripartism.

 

One example is the Company Training Committees, which the Labour Movement said has played a pivotal role in improving skills training and nurturing a skilled workforce.

 

The Labour Movement said that Mr Wong’s advocacy for better wages and employment outcomes for lower-income and vulnerable workers through schemes such as the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme (PWCS) and the enhanced Workfare Income Supplement scheme has been commendable.

 

NTUC Central Committee Member and Union of Security Employees (USE) General Secretary Raymond Chin said the PWCS has helped support the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) sectors, such as the security sector.

 

Mr Chin added: “The PWCS helped service buyers cope with PWM wage increases, which are necessary to improve the livelihoods of our lower-wage workers.

 

“This understanding of our lower-wage workers’ predicaments is very important, and we are confident that our workers in these sectors will continue to receive help and support from the Government as Mr Wong takes over the premiership.”

 

Fellow NTUC Central Committee Member and Building Construction And Timber Industries Employees’ Union (BATU) General Secretary Noor Irdawaty Jammarudin echoes this sentiment for lower-wage workers.

 

Ms Irdawaty said that while Mr Wong has helped BATU build its foundation to ensure a strong and sustainable union, she said that he especially cares for lower-wage workers that the union represents.

 

Mr Wong is a former advisor of BATU.

 

Unprecedented challenges of COVID-19

 

NTUC said in the letter that the COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges, during which the Prime Minister’s exceptional leadership as co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce proved instrumental in protecting workers and guiding Singapore through the crisis.

 

NTUC added: “Your decisive actions and support measures helped our workforce bounce back stronger and instilled a sense of security and hope in our people.”

 

Ms Irdawaty commended Mr Wong’s efforts during the pandemic.

 

She said: “Many union leaders and workers on the ground hold a very high level of admiration and respect for Brother Lawrence, especially when he led the nation through the challenges of COVID-19.”

 

NTUC Central Committee Member and Food, Drinks, and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU) President Julie Cheong said Mr Wong’s responses to the COVID-19 crisis were quick to protect lives and livelihoods.

 

She added: “He arranged vaccination for citizens to protect life, including prioritising vaccination for our sectors’ workers so they can continue to come to work.

 

“Our hotel workers also served in community facilities, which meant they could keep their employment.”

 

Addressing workers’ concerns

 

The letter added that Mr Wong’s involvement in initiatives like the Forward Singapore exercise and collaboration with NTUC in projects like the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations underscores his commitment to addressing workers’ concerns and aspirations.

 

NTUC Vice-President and Union of Power and Gas Employees (UPAGE) General Secretary Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab said that Mr Wong always gave his time to UPAGE to listen to various issues when he was the union’s advisor.

 

Mr Samad added: “Prime Minister Lawrence Wong has had a relationship with UPAGE since he was CEO of the Energy Market Authority. He has never, at any point, declined any invite or any time that we want to reach out and speak to him.”

 

NTUC Central Committee Member and Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (AUPE) General Secretary Sanjeev Kumar Tiwari also commended Mr Wong’s openness and proactive approach to unions.

 

“His willingness to listen and assist in arriving at solutions helped advance the workers’ cause and has always been appreciated,” Mr Sanjeev added.

 

The Labour Movement said it looks forward to Singapore’s new Prime Minister’s tenure and anticipates a continuation of the deep ties and enduring partnership between the Government and NTUC.

 

NTUC added that Mr Wong’s track record of advocating for workers’ rights assures this partnership will remain steadfast, ensuring that he continues to stand alongside Singapore’s workers.

 

Ensuring continuity and stability

 

Mr Lee Hsien Loong submitted his resignation letter to President Tharman Shanmugaratnam on 13 May 2024, stating his intention to step down as Prime Minister on 15 May 2024.

 

Mr Lee added that his Government would resign on the same day.

 

He said he had initially planned to hand over to a successor by the time he reached 70. However, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this timetable.

 

Mr Lee was 72 years old when he stepped down as Prime Minister.

 

Mr Lee added: “After the pandemic, we carried out a process to choose my successor. On 14 April 2022, the PAP [People’s Action Party] Members of Parliament met and unanimously endorsed Mr Lawrence Wong as the person to succeed me.

 

“Now, two years on, he is ready to lead Singapore.”

 

The new Prime Minister also announced the new Cabinet line-up on 15 May 2024, which largely remained the same.

 

Mr Wong said: “Continuity and stability are key considerations, especially as we are approaching the end of this term of Government.

 

“All the Ministers already have a full plate of work to see through, and some have also just rolled out new programmes in their ministries. So, to avoid any disruptions, I have decided to keep them in their present roles until the end of the term.”

 

Mr Wong is retaining his portfolio as Finance Minister after becoming Prime Minister.

 

His new Cabinet includes new appointments of backbenchers to political office holders.

 

The Cabinet also includes promotions of previous office holders, including NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Desmond Tan, who is now Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office.