S'pore welcomes ILO's call to work on inclusive, sustainable recovery

Singapore welcomes the International Labour Organisation's call for countries to work together so that the global recovery from Covid-19 is inclusive, sustainable and resilient, said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng yesterday.

The Government is committed to ensuring that a post-pandemic future of work entails better jobs and safer workplaces for all, said Dr Tan at the annual International Labour Conference.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), a United Nations agency, brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member states to set labour standards, develop policies and create programmes promoting decent work for people. This year's conference from June 7 to 19 was held virtually for the first time.

Dr Tan said Singapore is focusing on three key areas, guided by the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work. The declaration in 2019 called on member states to develop a "human-centred approach to the future of work" by investing in areas like maximum limits on working time and policies and incentives that promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

The first area Singapore will focus on is inclusive recovery, said Dr Tan. The Government has set aside nearly $100 billion to help workers and businesses. Close to 200,000 self-employed people have received cash payouts amounting to $9,000 per person under the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme. "For lower-wage workers, our aspiration is to cover all sectors with progressive wages, to upgrade their skills and uplift their wages. We are also providing levy rebates and waivers to help employers retain migrant workers and to protect their livelihoods," he said.

Another area of focus is to develop a resilient and adaptable workforce, with Singapore's tripartite partners working to help job seekers affected by the pandemic gain industry-relevant experience in key growth sectors. Nearly 93,000 workers had found new opportunities in jobs and skills placements under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills initiative by end-February.

Singapore will also adopt a "sustainable approach to ensure safe and decent work for all", including safe management measures and initiatives focused on workers' mental health, said Dr Tan.

Singapore will also do its part to support the region's preparations in answering the ILO's call to "work for a brighter future", through its Regional Centre for the Future of Work. Launched in September by then Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, it aims to boost regional collaboration to prepare Asean countries for the changing nature of work. Dr Tan said: "We welcome further opportunities to work with the ILO and we reaffirm Singapore's commitment to host the 17th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting in 2022."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2021, with the headline S'pore welcomes ILO's call to work on inclusive, sustainable recovery. Subscribe