Pioneer labour leaders overcame challenges to build up labour movement: Lim Swee Say

Mr Lim Swee Say (centre) at the 20th Anniversary Commemorative Event for the Excellent Service Award (EXSA), a national awards programme dedicated to recognising the efforts of service professionals. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Mr Lim Swee Say (centre) at the 20th Anniversary Commemorative Event for the Excellent Service Award (EXSA), a national awards programme dedicated to recognising the efforts of service professionals. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - The labour movement in Singapore has come a long way from its early days of dealing with poor working conditions and wages and this is due to the efforts of the pioneer generation union leaders, said Mr Lim Swee Say, the secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress on Friday.

At the organisation's annual Unite Leadership Summit, an event to recognise union leaders, Mr Lim said: "The labour movement was not born with a silver spoon in its mouth...It was chaotic times in the 50s and 60s. Working conditions were poor, wages were low, skills upgrading was much neglected. The difficulties we had to overcome were beyond words.

"The modernisation of Jurong, the growth of trade unions and social enterprises; all these would not have been possible without the pioneering spirit, the grit and sacrifices from our pioneer generation labour leaders."