Scheme to boost SME workers' welfare

The NTUC Club is introducing a membership scheme specially for workers of small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs), as part of the labour movement's drive to improve staff welfare at these companies.

Membership will entitle workers to discounts when using club facilities, discounts on movie tickets at Shaw theatres and at eateries like Pizza Hut, and access to NTUC training programmes.

The corporate scheme is open to NTUC's 13,000 SME partners that together employ about 300,000 workers.

Employers will pay the $120 annual membership fee for each worker at NTUC Club - the leisure and entertainment arm of the National Trades Union Congress.

The scheme was announced at a dialogue that top labour leaders had with 35 SME bosses on ways the labour movement can help SMEs retain talent and seek new business opportunities.

NTUC assistant director-general Yeo Guat Kwang said a perennial problem SMEs face is their inability to match the staff benefits given by big companies. He called on SMEs to sign up for the new corporate membership as a way to provide staff welfare they do not have the resources for.

Labour chief Chan Chun Sing told reporters that it is important to take care of the needs of SMEs, as they form 99 per cent of businesses in Singapore and employ 70 per cent of the workforce.

NTUC also wants to help companies digitise and tap overseas markets. Mr Chan said Google, for instance, was keen to help 250 SMEs use technology to rethink their business models and reach international clients.

He also said the labour movement can bring SMEs together to discuss solutions to the different problems they face, like shortage of manpower. "Such platforms allow SMEs to understand that their challenges are not unique to themselves. Many of them share the same kind of challenges but they have different ways of overcoming them," he added.

Ms Susan Chong, chief executive of local packaging firm Greenpac, said her firm will sign up for membership for its 40 workers as the benefits are attractive while the cost is low. "It gives access to so many things that the typical SME cannot afford to provide."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2017, with the headline 'Scheme to boost SME workers' welfare'. Print Edition | Subscribe