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Ng Chee Meng: NTUC Will Continue to Champion All Workers in the Future of Work

NTUC commits to working with employers to embark on business and workforce transformation and ensure workers do not get left behind as Singapore moves towards a greener economy.
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As Singapore’s workforce evolves, NTUC will continue championing all workers’ interests to seek win-win-win outcomes for Singapore, its businesses and working people.


NTUC will also continue leveraging Company Training Committees to integrate workforce and business transformation, ensuring a "just transition” as the nation moves towards a greener future economy.


These were the main emphases of NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng’s keynote address during the second day of the Singapore Perspectives 2023 conference by the Institute of Policy Studies on 9 January 2023.


"In an increasingly unequal world, with the tremendous technological advancements that can potentially replace workers in work, we need to pay close attention to work with reference to a working person earning a good living, and importantly, with work as an integral part of a social compact, how can we look forward and cast our vision forward to refresh this social compact with work in mind,” he said.


"We want to work with like-minded people to better champion the interests of our workers. We will do so in a collaborative manner seeking win-win-win outcomes for our country, our businesses and our working people,” he said.



NTUC - A Champion for Workers


To better understand the needs of workers from different walks of life, Mr Ng said NTUC embarked on its #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations back in August 2022 to gather feedback from youths, workers, employers and partners.


Additionally, he also gave an account of past and ongoing efforts as to how NTUC continues to champion the interests of workers across different segments.


He shared how NTUC has worked with the Government to expand the Progressive Wage Model to more lower-wage sectors to uplift close to 300,000 workers thus far.


He said: "[The] PWM is crucial to uplift lower-wage workers. It not only gives workers the needed better pay but, importantly, has built-in skills ladders to up productivity and upgrading of skills so businesses can sustain productivity growth and continue good business.”


NTUC has championed the increase in retirement and re-employment ages and the restoration of CPF contribution rates for mature workers to help them save more for retirement.


NTUC has also worked with partners to level the playing field for local PMEs in the face of foreign competition and enhance workplace fairness.


Mr Ng said that NTUC also continues to champion the interests of vulnerable platform workers.


Besides moving for their longer-term financial planning through employer CPF contributions, NTUC has worked to ensure workplace injury assurance covers workers.


"And importantly, in this new space, maybe even changing the laws for the right for these freelancers to seek former representation,” he added.


NTUC Will Partner with More Employers to Transform the Workforce


Beyond championing workers’ interests, Mr Ng said that NTUC is partnering with employers to do more in terms of industry and workforce transformation by setting up CTCs.


"This is our way of moving forward together in a win-win approach towards the challenges of industry 4.0,” he said.


He shared that management and union leaders work hand-in-glove in a typical CTC to foster business and workforce transformation.


Management ideas and business plans through the committee are communicated to union leaders so they can understand the business directions and technological investments.


"These business plans can [then] be matched to relevant skills to redesign jobs,” he said.


The Move Towards a Greener Economy


In the race towards a green or greener economy, Mr Ng said that the economic and business changes would bring opportunities and challenges.


NTUC needs to explore how companies can apply a "just transition” as they work towards pursuing a greener business footprint.


A "just transition” is a framework by a labour movement to encompass a range of social interventions to secure workers’ rights and livelihoods as economies shift towards greener and more sustainable production.


"In many labour movements around the world, there are great concerns whether there will be large scale and unfair replacement and displacement of workers.


"I hope to pre-empt this with proactive measures to work with companies undergoing such transformation,” he said.


He added that NTUC is working closely with Temasek portfolio companies to explore how companies can apply the "just transition” into their business plans.