SINGAPORE - Employers should share productivity gains with workers in a fair and sustainable way, said National Wages Council (NWC) chairman Peter Seah on Tuesday.
He urged employers to train workers so they have the skills needed to help raise productivity, and threw his support behind the Government's SkillsFuture initiative - the drive to get Singaporeans to deepen their skills.
Unions should encourage workers to take ownership of their skills development, he added.
"The NWC remains of the view that real wage increases should be in line with productivity growth over the long term, so as to be sustainable and not erode the long term competitiveness of our economy," he said over e-mail, in his first media interview since taking the helm in April.
He succeeded Professor Lim Pin, 79, who held the position from 2001.
The 68-year-old, who is also chairman of DBS Group Holdings and DBS Bank, said that the council's representativeness is a key element underpinning its success. It comprises employer and business associations, as well as union and Government representatives. It also seeks input from the public in its deliberations.
"As such, the NWC guidelines are arrived at through tripartite consultation and consensus," he said, adding that this helps in the acceptance of guidelines and their implementation.
He was responding to a question on how he can bring his private sector experience to NWC's work. "No matter our area of expertise, we all have much to learn from our colleagues on the council," he added.
Mr Seah paid tribute to Prof Lim, whom he has known for a long time. "I watched and learned from him how to chair the NWC and bring the parties together to arrive at meaningful recommendations," he said.
Having served as deputy chairman of the council since last year, Mr Seah said he was approached by the Government to chair the council and accepted the appointment because of his belief in the tripartite movement.
"(The council) provides a valuable platform to help forge tripartite consensus on wage increases every year," he said. "As the third chairman, I hope to continue the good work of the NWC."