Pace of change critical: Labour chief Swee Say

Labour chief Lim Swee Say said on Saturday that as Singapore undergoes economic restructuring, it must get the pace right.

Too slow and Singapore would lose its competitiveness, too fast and companies would close down.

"The pace must be right so companies will have time to react and adjust to the new structure," he told reporters at an NTUC (National Trades Union Congress) event in Downtown East.

Mr Lim pointed to the 1980s when Singapore underwent restructuring an forced wages to rise every six months.

In the end, the pace was too fast and Singapore's economy went into recession, he said.

He also said the recent Budget measures would support companies in this transition period and help raise wages of Singaporeans which will in turn contribute to narrowing the growing income gap.

The Wage Credit Scheme, in which the Government will foot 40 per cent of the wage rises for the next three years, will help companies, he added.

"Businesses should make use of the next three years to upgrade themselves ... and raise productivity."

Speaking at the event to celebrate International Women's Day, he said that employers should "value every worker" and it was in their interest to provide family-friendly environments to enable women to work and raise families at the same time.