NTUC nominates leader of port workers' union for NMP post

NTUC said Mr Arasu Duraisamy is a strong advocate for retraining and reskilling workers.
NTUC said Mr Arasu Duraisamy is a strong advocate for retraining and reskilling workers.

The labour movement is backing Mr Arasu Duraisamy - general secretary of the Singapore Port Workers Union (SPWU)- to be a Nominated MP.

In a statement yesterday, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) called Mr Arasu, 50, a strong advocate for retraining and reskilling workers.

This is because he "believes in the need for them to adapt and remain relevant in the fast-changing economic landscape amid technological disruptions", said NTUC. "More importantly, he leads by example as he continuously upgrades himself."

Mr Arasu, who is married with one child, joined SPWU in 1993 and was elected its general secretary in 2014. He was first elected to the NTUC Central Committee in 2011, and was re-elected in 2015.

"(His) selfless and steadfast demeanour has earned the respect of many of his union members, workers, peers and management," added NTUC. "He recognises the importance of leveraging his role as a union leader to speak up for workers' interests and raise pertinent issues that he feels deeply for, even if it might be unpopular to do so."

Mr Arasu has experience in national tripartite committees, having served on the National Wages Council and the Public Transport Council. He is also a member of the International Transport Workers' Federation, Dockers Section.

Being a labour NMP means raising workers' concerns in Parliament so that issues can be resolved and changes made for the good of workers and the economy, Mr Arasu said of his nomination.

"At the rate that jobs are being affected by technological advancements, it is more important than ever that our workers embrace and keep up with the transformations," he added. "I will be focusing on the critical need for our workers to train, retrain and reskill, and finding effective means to encourage them to embark on this journey."

Voicing her support for Mr Arasu, NTUC president Mary Liew said: "Coming from a union that has very strong labour-management (relations)... he understands the true benefits of how such a foundation can be a win-win for both the company and its workers."

Introduced in 1990, the NMP scheme provides for non-partisan voices in Parliament. There can be up to nine NMPs each term, which lasts 21/2 years. Four of the nine current NMPs have said they will not seek another term. Nominations close on July 6.

Traditionally, NTUC's nominee would eventually be accepted by the Special Select Committee of Parliament, which makes its decision after interviewing candidates and consulting elected MPs.

The current labour NMP is Ms K. Thanaletchimi, 51, president of the Healthcare Services Employees' Union. She has served one term and is expected to step down when her term ends in September.

Meanwhile, the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) is encouraging member organisations to nominate suitable candidates for NMP. "This is an opportunity for the sector to put forward their best candidates with experience and knowledge of the sector to be their voice for the social service sector in Parliament," said NCSS chief executive officer Sim Gim Guan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'NTUC nominates leader of port workers' union for NMP post'. Print Edition | Subscribe