In his May Day message, out-going secretary-general for the National Trade Union Congress Lim Swee Say outlined how Singapore’s economy and workforce has progressed in the past 50 years.
Highlighting the “extraordinary determination of our Pioneer Generation leaders and workers”, Mr Lim, who is also Cabinet Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and relinquishing his NTUC appointment to in-coming Minister Chan Chun Sing, outlined four things “secured for our workers what workers elsewhere can only dream of”:
“Instead of having too many workers chase after too few jobs, we have a tight labour market where jobs chase after our workers, whether they are young, mature or returning to the workforce;
Instead of stagnant wages, our workers enjoy fair share of profits and gains through bonuses and wage increases;
Instead of our mature workers having to retire early to give way to jobless youth, we have progressively raised the re-employment age ceiling, so our mature workers can choose to continue working into their golden years for a more fulfilling and meaningful life; and
Instead of being forced to go on strikes for fair wages and treatment, we can enjoy industrial peace and focus our efforts on enlarging the economic pie, so there is more for all to share.”
However, Mr Lim also warned workers about the need to “sharpen our focus” for Singapore’s workforce to stay relevant.
“Firstly, towards SkillsFuture by helping more workers pick up skills to enhance our future employability. Secondly, towards JobsFuture by helping more businesses transform existing jobs and create new jobs to enhance our future competitiveness.
We must move faster on both fronts. Failing which, we may see a rise in unemployment due to job shortages, structural unemployment due to skill shortages, and under-employment due to mismatch between future jobs and future skills. We could then regress and become just a normal country with an ordinary economy and ordinary workforce. This will be painful. We do not want this kind of future for ourselves, and definitely not for our children.”
Mr Lim’s full message is available on the NTUC website.