May Day Rally

Call for tripartite partners to ensure growth is inclusive

Office workers in Singapore's central business district, on Dec 6, 2018.
Office workers in Singapore's central business district, on Dec 6, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

Even as Singapore pursues economic growth, the Government, unions and employers must ensure that growth remains inclusive, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

In particular, lower-wage workers, seniors and those who had left the workforce early warrant special attention, he said, calling on the labour movement to consider what more can be done for their well-being.

There is the progressive wage model for lower-wage workers, which sets out minimum pay for various skill levels in the cleaning, security and landscape sectors. It is being extended to the lift maintenance sector.

For seniors, the Government has raised Workfare payouts and extended the Special Employment Credit scheme to end-2020, he said, adding that it will implement step by step the proposals to raise the retirement and re-employment ages, and review Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates.

The Government is also studying how to help people who have low balances in their CPF savings accounts after leaving the workforce early or because they did not work consistently. Details will be worked out in the coming months.

When growth is not inclusive, people can become frustrated, as is the case in some advanced economies. "Their wages are stagnating, their political systems are malfunctioning, and their lives are not improving," said Mr Heng.

"We cannot guarantee the same will not happen here. But we can and must try to avoid a similar fate. And the key to that is tripartism and the continued vitality of our unions," he said, adding that the National Trades Union Congress and the People's Action Party have always been committed to uplifting all workers.

 

"Whether you are rich or poor, whether you are a worker or a manager, whether you are an employer or a unionist, each of us owes a duty to care for, support and sustain each other," he said. "This is how we keep our country together."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2019, with the headline 'Call for tripartite partners to ensure growth is inclusive'. Print Edition | Subscribe