NTUC membership surpasses 1 million, growth spurred by changes in membership model, training initiatives

NTUC membership hit 1,075,958 as at June this year, a jump from the 962,737 in 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Republic's labour union membership surpassed the 1 million mark this year as it innovated its membership model and ramped up training initiatives to help workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

These results and corresponding insights will be presented in a report at the Ordinary Delegates' Conference to be held by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) on Wednesday (Nov 17).

NTUC membership hit 1,075,958 as at June this year, an increase from 962,737 in 2019.

"To reach our target of 1.5 million members by 2030, the Labour Movement must continue to innovate our membership model to better serve even more members and their evolving aspirations and needs through their various life stages," NTUC said in a media release on Tuesday (Nov 16).

It added that the membership base has expanded to cover more freelancers and self-employed people, migrant workers and professionals, managers and executives (PMEs).

The labour landscape is changing, NTUC added, noting the rise of alternative work arrangements and the increase in the number of freelancers and self-employed people.

"We also saw the workplace vulnerabilities of other worker groups including PMEs, small and medium-sized enterprise workers, youth and migrant workers," it said.

"Thus, we innovated our business model to build stronger relationships with these worker groups and understand their expectations and demands, so that their interests and rights in areas like career progression, job security, wage negotiations and workplace matters are better represented, advanced and protected."

NTUC also worked on innovating its training model to help workers keep their skills up to date.

For instance, it formed company training committees with firms across various industries. These committees comprise union leaders and firm management who come together to identify disrupted jobs and new roles, as well as curate relevant training to help workers keep up with industry transformation.

The NTUC Job Security Council also supported companies with recruitment and redeployment efforts, which helped workers with their jobs and skills upgrading especially amid the pandemic.

"By innovating our training model, NTUC is able to provide our members and workers with more training and employment opportunities so that they are better skilled and can enjoy better wages, better welfare and better work prospects," it said.

Helping workers to tide over the pandemic was also part of NTUC's efforts over the past year.

Its Job Security Council helped more than 28,000 displaced workers with job placements within a year after it was formed, reaching out to 10,000 companies.

To help workers keep their jobs, almost 40 firms implemented shorter work weeks, affecting some 7,000 workers.

NTUC also helped preserve wages - especially for low-income earners - with the National Wages Council guidelines.

Unionised companies continued to pay fairly, it noted, but close to one in three froze wages to save workers' jobs.

NTUC also provided care support and assistance to the self-employed. A care fund of $25 million supported low-income union members, while help was given to taxi and private hire drivers.

It said: "We worked with companies to preserve as many jobs for our workers as possible.

"Those who unfortunately lost their jobs, we helped them to negotiate for retrenchment benefits, pivot out of their situation and find jobs as quickly as possible. We also assisted in the redeployment of workers in hard-hit sectors such as aviation, hospitality and tourism."

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said on Tuesday: "As demands and expectations of our economy and society keep evolving, NTUC must continue to embrace innovation and digitalisation, expand our advocacy to wider groups of workers, and strive to meet our members and workers' changing needs."

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