Guidelines for firms and unions prepare for more union representation of executives

Guidelines have been drawn up to help employers and unions prepare for a change in the law to allow for more union representation of white-collared workers. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Guidelines have been drawn up to help employers and unions prepare for a change in the law to allow for more union representation of white-collared workers. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE-Guidelines have been drawn up to help employers and unions prepare for a change in the law to allow for more union representation of white-collared workers.

The guidelines, which were announced by a tripartite committee today, propose that unions and firms use salary levels and the proportion of executives within companies as a criteria to decide if their professional staff can be represented as a group by unions.

However, the guidelines did not define the salary levels or the proportion of staff.

To avoid conflict of interest, the tripartite committee also recommended that senior management and staff with decision-making powers on industrial matters be excluded from union representation.

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong, who is part of the tripartite committee, said it is difficult to have uniform benchmarks that all firms and unions can use.

This is because salary ranges for professional, managerial and executive staff differ significantly based on industry, company size and job scope. Additionally, firms differ on the size of their executive staff strength. That makes it challenging to mandate that all firms represent a fixed proportion of executive staff.

The guidelines have been introduced in preparation for the amendment of the Industrial Relations Act which may be passed by the second quarter of next year.

The amendment seeks to let unions, which represent rank-and-file workers, also represent professionals, managers and executives, a move lobbied for by the National Trades Union Congress.