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Has the NTUC really helped to protect the rights of workers?

Singapore has come a long way since the 60s. From a relatively much more simple way of life, Singapore has become a sparkling city whose inhabitants are outwardly wealthy. That however, is only one side of the story. While some people have benefited from Singapore’s economic rise, some people have been left behind. While that may well be unavoidable, it becomes troubling when the pool of “have nots” appear to be growing while the pool of “haves” grows ever smaller. This is an inequity that has to be addressed, not pushed under the rug to implode another day.

Stories have been appearing online of old people living in poverty, of disabled people not supported to hawkers working extremely long hours just to pay rents and other charges. The latest story to strike a cord is that of 65 year old Mr Rajab Abu Noh who has been a postman for the past 43 years. As it is a “premium” article on the Straits Times, not everyone will be able to read it. To cut to the chase, this is account of someone who has worked hard and honestly for 43 years and whose salary has not really advanced in line with the increasing workload or inflation.

With the advent of technology, postmen have seen their workloads increase due to online shopping and deliveries. It is also safe to say (nor would I be alone in making the observation) that the cost of living has drastically increased in the past 20 years or so. In any job, we all need some sort of progress to stay motivated. Why is it that we do not seem to have put this in place in the more seemingly mundane forms of civil service work? Mr Rajab has not complained. In fact, he stated categorically that he wants to work for as long as he can, But it is clear (at least to me, the reader) that he is getting on and the job is labour intensive with increasing workloads but seemingly stagnant pay.

Where is the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) on this? The NTUC has said on its web page that the NTUC strives to help working people of all collars, ages and nationalities achieve gainful employment through better jobs, and a better living through higher wages so they can live a better life. It further says that “apart from protecting the rights and advancing the interests of our working people, NTUC also strives to support working families through the various stages of their lives and moderate their cost of living.”

Has the NTUC lived up to its own goals where Mr Rajab is concerned?