Wanted: 500 firms to rehire workers aged above 65 by end-2015

SINGAPORE - The labour movement aims to get about 500 unionised firms to voluntarily rehire workers past the age of 65 by the end of next year.

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How said the labour movement will reach its goal by ramping up efforts to promote the benefits of re-employing older workers to firms.

"In the coming year, we will be urging more firms to rehire older workers. They have a wealth of experience to offer," he told reporters on Wednesday night at the sidelines of a dinner at Swissotel Merchant Court for around 200 mature workers.

"We are confident of reaching our goal of getting 500 firms to say yes by the end of next year."

His comments comes after the Manpower Ministry's announcement on Monday that from next January, incentives will be offered to firms that voluntarily rehire workers past the age of 65.

Details of the incentives are now being worked out. They will be announced next year but backdated to Jan 1, 2015.

Currently, firms are required by the law to offer re-employment to eligible workers when they turn 62, up to the age of 65.

Mr Heng said the introduction of the incentives will help the labour movement to reach its eventual goal of changing legislation to raise the re-employment age to 67.

"We think that more firms will be willing to rehire older workers with the incentives. With greater tripartite consensus, we will be better able to make a change in legislation."

Older workers at the event said they are thankful that their companies have rehired them after they turned 62.

Crane operator Chiam Ah Kow, 70, who works at PPL Shipyard at Pandan Loop, said: "My company treats me well. I earn about $5,000 a month with overtime pay and get leave and medical benefits. I want to work for as long as possible."