Plugging into a new game plan

 National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General, Mr Chan Chun Sing delivering his speech at the May Day Rally 2016. Photo: ST

With workers at the heart and core of the Labour Movement, NTUC will now focus on workers’ evolving needs, expanding its services and growing a stronger network.

Jonathan Tan
NTUC This Week
Jun 1, 2016

Amidst a dynamic economic landscape with a changing demographic marked by different segments of workers, each with increasingly varied needs, taking care of workers, being fair to them and most importantly, helping them grow in their careers remain the core of the Labour Movement’s focus.

“The Labour Movement must be a reflection of the structure of the economy. As that structure evolves, we too, must evolve. As the needs of our people change, we too, must change,” said NTUC Secretary-General (SG) Chan Chun Sing in his maiden May Day Rally speech at Downtown East on 1 May 2016.

“The best way for us to take care of our people is to ensure that they have good jobs to enable them to take care of themselves,” said SG Chan, pointing out that it is integral for NTUC to be developer, mobiliser and integrator to effect such an outcome.

Embracing the future

As developer, the Labour Movement will work with partners such as institutes of higher learning to develop relevant courses for workers looking to upgrade themselves or pick up new skills.

As mobiliser, the Labour Movement has the responsibility to get all working people to embrace life-long learning for tomorrow.

The NTUC Labour Movement... at a glance


As integrator, the Labour Movement will look at turning diverse policies into actionable plans.

One of the ways to do so is to work with NTUC’s tripartite partners to develop a stronger system of career counselling.

“Not just in the traditional sense,” explained SG Chan, “but to be able to fit people not just into current jobs, but in emerging jobs as well.” SG Chan recently revealed that NTUC is also co-developing a network of auxiliary career coaches together with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute).

“These are people who are still in the industry, working in the jobs of today, or tomorrow, who can provide advice to people looking for jobs—both students and mid-career individuals. We think that this is much more effective,” he said.

This will complement a series of training and upgrading programmes that can be readily available to all workers, so that they can pick up new skills that can speed up the process from course to market. 

Evolving needs

The worker segments in Singapore have also evolved beyond just rank and file workers to now include professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), freelancers, evergreen workers, and others on contract.

“Specifically, they are looking for career development opportunities, training programmes, opportunities to network and opportunities to work beyond Singapore where they can be globally competitive,” he added.

Expanding services

Reiterating the close working relationship the Labour Movement maintains with its tripartite partners, SG Chan cited the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP), Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) and Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT) as new avenues for workers to get help and support.

SG Chan also underscored the continued importance of the unions as the Labour Movement grows its suite of services. Supporting that, is the formation of a Leadership Council to groom new leaders with the right values—prioritising the interests of workers above all else.

“The model of protection and privileges for our workers are still core staple businesses. But the Labour Movement has to expand to provide training and development opportunities for the entire workforce so as to uplift an entire generation of people,” he said.

Growing networks

As a means to reach out to and engage with a greater number of workers, SG Chan shared that NTUC will be working with professional associations and guilds through its U Associate programme.

“Complementing the unions will be two to three other parts that will grow in significance. One of this is the U Associate programme. Through our 31 U Associates, we’ve been able to reach out to 200,000 additional PMEs who are not already on our unions’ list,” he shared.

NTUC will also continue to engage with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through the U SME programme, in addition to large multinational corporations (MNCs).

“We now partner the SME bosses and work with them. We now have more than 3,000 SMEs in our network benefitting more than 70,000 workers in the network and this will keep growing,” highlighted SG Chan.

SG Chan also announced an extension to the Inclusive Growth Programme administered by NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute).

Another focus lies in expanding the Labour Movement’s scope of protection to include workers such as freelancers and contract workers. Protection of their legal rights and financial counselling were identified as relevant services for them.

The eventual goal, according to SG Chan, is to create greater value for NTUC’s members, and at the same time, allow the unions, associates and partners to grow together with the Labour Movement.

This article encapsulates the points NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing shared during his May Day Rally speech on 1 May 2016 and at his media briefing on 28 April 2016.