NTUC to partner International Transport Workers' Federation to prepare workers for disruption

National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Ng Chee Meng with International Transport Workers' Federation president Paddy Crumlin (second from left) and NTUC president Mary Liew (third from left).
National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Ng Chee Meng with International Transport Workers' Federation president Paddy Crumlin (second from left) and NTUC president Mary Liew (third from left).PHOTO: INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORT WORKERS' FEDERATION

SINGAPORE - A new agreement to be signed here this week aims to better prepare workers in the transport industry for the impact of digital disruption.

The Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute - a labour education and training centre run by the National Trade Unions Congress (NTUC) - will sign an agreement this week with the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) to jointly research and suggest how workers in various transport sectors can upgrade their skills.

The two will partner each other for an initial period of 18 months, during which the institute will provide training on better understanding the impact of disruption affecting transport workers.

All members of the ITF - an association of about 700 transport unions, representing more than 16 million transport workers from 150 countries - will potentially benefit from the research and training, said a spokesman for the federation.

Transport workers are facing unique challenges as the industry "changes beyond all recognition", said ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton.

"We must ensure that the future of work in transport is good jobs with good conditions for all. But at the same time transport workers must be ready for the huge changes that are coming in their sector, and this means their unions must be prepared and ready to shape that change," he added.

The agreement would help in working towards this, said Mr Cotton.

The signing is being held in conjunction with the 44th Congress of the ITF, which held its opening ceremony at the Suntec Convention Centre on Sunday (Oct 14).

More than 2,300 participants are attending the week-long event, which is being held in South-east Asia for the first time in the federation's 122-year history.

The London-headquartered ITF also opened its 10th international office in Singapore last year.

Among the issues being discussed at the Congress is the impact of digitalisationin reshaping the global transport industry.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said technological disruption could be "harvested" to bring great progress and economic opportunities.

Mr Ng, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, said the labour movement here wants to ensure workers are prepared for Industry 4.0, a term referring to the digitalisation of industry. Workers here must upgrade themselves to become more adaptive, as well as gain the technological and technical skills necessary for new jobs and new ways of working.

"Ultimately, Industry 4.0 is only meaningful if it benefits both our companies and our workers, with our workers being able to transit into better jobs and achieve better wages, welfare and work prospects and ultimately, enjoy better lives with their families," said the labour chief.