$200 million raised to subsidise worker training, says labour chief Chan Chun Sing

Labour chief Chan Chun Sing (left) with deputy secretary-generals Koh Poh Koon (centre) and Ng Chee Meng on stage during the May Day Rally at D’Marquee in Downtown East on May 1, 2018. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The labour movement has injected its targeted $200 million into a fund that helps subsidise training for union members, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Chan Chun Sing said at the May Day Rally on Tuesday (May 1).

In 2016, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the Government would provide a 1-to-3 matching grant, up to a cap of $150 million, as additional funding support for the NTUC-Education and Training Fund (NETF).

Two years on, Mr Chan said the labour movement has raised $50 million through sponsorships and received $150 million in matching funds from the Government.

"Despite the economic situation, all of us chipped in because we believe in the value of training and preparing our workers for the next lap," he said.

Mr Chan said the fund will be used to create new training modules for union members.

He stressed the urgency of training and upgrading workers' skills amid rapid technological change.

This is an area that the current generation of union leaders and workers must focus on, he added.

"In the past many conventional labour movements were focused perhaps on only two or three things - making sure that there are privileges for their members, making sure that there are protections for their members, and perhaps if the member is displaced, to do some placement, to help the member get a new job," he said.

"These three Ps - privileges, protections and placements - are important and still must be done. But we need to add to our skillset a fourth P - progression. Helping our workers ahead of time to make sure they stay relevant, because we firmly believe that the best protection, the best welfare for workers, is a good job."

Mr Chan also mapped out what the labour movement is doing to better represent workers and to be more relevant.

For example, it is working on a plan with financial cluster unions to strengthen its connection to and representation of professionals, managers and executives in new services such as financial technology, insurance technology and asset management.

NTUC is also forming an ICT Association to support training and development for information and communications technology professionals across various industries.

In addition, a new Supply Chain Employees' Union has just been formed to represent workers in the logistics and supply chain management sector, including 800 employees from ST Logistics.

NTUC's social enterprises are also going to work more closely together to offer integrated services, Mr Chan said.

The upcoming Kampung Admiralty project is an example of how they will do this, he said.

The new housing estate will include an NTUC FairPrice supermarket, a Foodfare hawker centre, a First Campus childcare centre and an NTUC Health elder care service centre.

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