NTUC to help wider range of workers: Chan Chun Sing

Changes to its Constitution to benefit PMEs, non-union staff

More workers in jobs ranging from managers to freelancers can expect help from the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

They also need not be members of NTUC unions.

The change reflects the greater fluidity in the labour market, where the separation between professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) and rank and file is an artificial divide, said NTUC secretary-general Chan Chun Sing yesterday.

"We also shouldn't have the artificial divide where the union is the only mechanism to organise and represent workers," he added at a media conference.

To formalise the changes, NTUC amended its Constitution yesterday.

It has been reaching out to more groups of workers like PMEs for several years, but the previous Constitution could have been narrowly interpreted as covering the representation of only rank-and-file workers using unions as the only mechanism, Mr Chan said.

The more diverse economic landscape now means working people are on a continuum, he added.

Mr Chan noted that many unions include PMEs, though they may receive different services according to collective bargaining laws.

NTUC is a vast organisation with nearly 60 unions, more than 60 U Associates - which are professional associations - as well as a unit for freelancers and self-employed workers (U FSE), a unit for small and medium-sized enterprises and groups helping migrant workers.

It said the constitutional changes, along with nine papers charting its future direction, were supported by about 97 per cent of the 410 delegates who voted at a biennial conference yesterday.

ARTIFICIAL DIVIDE

We also shouldn't have the artificial divide where the union is the only mechanism to organise and represent workers.

MR CHAN CHUN SING, NTUC secretary-general, on the greater fluidity in the labour market.

It will work on, among other things, helping PMEs expand their networks and gain skills, establishing industry standards and fair practices for freelancers and self-employed people, and raising awareness of migrant workers' rights.

It is also grouping unions and U Associates into 23 clusters corresponding to the 23 industry transformation maps, which spell out the development plans for these key industries. The groups will look at how the plans apply to workers in specific jobs.

Freelance emcee and presenter Ross Sarpani, 47, said the U FSE network has helped the group he co-founded about two years ago - Singapore Talent, Artistes and Resources association. He said U FSE has organised workshops, seminars and fairs, and also linked his group with the relevant government agencies to run initiatives like SGSecure training. "The events open avenues for networking, which is crucial in my industry," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2017, with the headline 'NTUC to help wider range of workers: Chan Chun Sing'. Print Edition | Subscribe