TL;DR – Best welfare for workers is a job, and not temporary relief.
The COVID-19 situation has taken a toll on Singapore’s economy, impacting many workers as well as their livelihoods in the process.
To save jobs, support workers, and protect livelihoods from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) will be leveraging on their existing capabilities to ramp up on the support for workers in this time of need, as Singapore moves towards re-opening its economy, said NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng in a Facebook post.
“In such times when our workers are increasingly anxious and concerned, this is a grim and constant reminder, that we must press on and help our workers maintain their livelihoods.”
So how’s NTUC going to help workers secure livelihoods while ensuring that they can stay employed and employable?
Here are four key areas in which NTUC will be focusing their efforts in:
- Helping workers keep their jobs
- Helping workers find jobs
- Helping workers benefit from progressive jobs
- Helping workers transit into new and better jobs
Helping workers keep their jobs
To help workers continue to keep their jobs as the economy re-opens, NTUC said it will continue to work closely with employers, alongside with affiliated unions and associations, to manage costs with the long-term view of improving competitiveness.
At the same time, NTUC will also continue to pro-actively partner companies in their job redesign efforts, to cater to changes in the workplace and in work itself. This will ensure that jobs can be made more productive and attractive for workers, and in the process, help companies keep and retain good workers that support the business.
Helping workers find jobs
First introduced by the labour movement’s Secretary-General, Ng Chee Meng, in his Budget 2020 Debate speech in February, the NTUC Job Security Council (JSC), operationalised by NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute), was set up to create an ecosystem to pre-emptively match at-risk and displaced workers into new jobs.
To date, more than 7,000 workers have been placed into jobs through JSC, including airline flight attendants who have become social distancing ambassadors, and more recently, swabbers for coronavirus tests, to help fight against Covid-19.
According to the labour chief, the JSC will also be playing a supporting role to the National Jobs Council announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in the fortitude budget 2020 speech.
The National Jobs Council, chaired by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, will oversee efforts to help Singaporeans master skills needed to stay employable in a challenging economy.
Helping workers benefit from progressive jobs
Research results show that certain workers are more vulnerable to the changing technology and non-traditional work landscape, namely the mid-career Professionals, Managers, and Executives (PMEs), mature workers, and women workers.
With childcare and eldercare services disrupted by COVID-19, NTUC recognises that there is a need to provide support to workers with young children or elderly parents so that none of these vulnerable workers will be left behind.
As such, NTUC will be working with the tripartite partners (unions, government, employers) to support companies, and to offer more flexibility to workers with care needs.
For workers who are impacted by the pandemic and require more financial support, NTUC has proposed for the Government to enhance the COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG) by increasing the quantum of assistance and extend the CSG period aligning it to the Self-Employed Persons Income Relief Scheme (SIRS), to help workers get through the crisis.
It has also proposed for more enhancement to be done to the payouts and the Workfare Training Support for workers in the lower-income group.
Helping workers transit into new and better jobs
Heard of Company Training Committee (CTC)? Launched in 2019, CTC helps workers reskill and upskill in parallel with their companies’ transformations so that they can transform and thrive in the dynamic industry landscape.
NTUC said it will continue to explore ways to onboard the Government and employers in the CTC initiative to help workers transit into new and better jobs. Along with its unions, NTUC will work closely with companies to accelerate the upskilling of the workforce and to make training relevant and useful to workers.
This is to ensure that Singapore can continue to preserve and strengthen the Singaporean Core in our workforce, while improving the productivity of businesses. And at the same time, help workers to secure better jobs and better wages.
Not sure about you, but I think the workers in Singapore are in good hands – as long as workers are willing to adapt and ready to accept change.