Find out why Ng Chee Meng is still NTUC secretary-general, if he’s still bro, and what he’s been up to

By July 17, 2020Current, People

TL;DR – While netizens are still cracking their heads over why Ng Chee Meng is still Labour Chief, he’s already jumped right back into work.

Once every four years, the NTUC National Delegates’ Conference (NDC) happens.

The NDC is a platform for the Labour Movement to formulate the direction that it would take in the next four years to help the working people in Singapore have better jobs, better pay and better lives.

It is also at NDC that the delegates, comprising union leaders, elect 21 people to form the NTUC Central Committee. Yes, for a four-year term until the next NDC. yeps, almost like our General Election where our nation’s leaders are voted in.

What is the NTUC Central Committee though?

In a nutshell,  the Central Committee (CC) is the highest decision-making body in the Labour Movement (LM).

If it’s easier, just imagine the CC to be like NTUC’s Cabinet.

According to its Constitution, the CC is the “planning, policy and execution organ” of the Labour Movement. 

The most recent NDC took place in Oct 2019 where Labour Chief Ng Chee Meng won the election for the first time since he joined NTUC in April 2018.

So the Central Committee, NTUC’s highest governing body, will be responsible for steering the Labour Movement towards NTUC’s 2023 vision. The committee will hold a four-year term from 2019 to 2023.

How NTUC’s NDC Elections are done

Union delegates elect the NTUC Central Committee (CC) every four years by secret ballot from among nominated candidates.

The NTUC CC then elects among themselves one President, one Secretary-General, three Vice-Presidents, one Secretary for Financial Affairs, up to three Deputy Secretaries-General, and up to five Assistant Secretaries-General.

(L-R) NTUC’s secretary-general Ng Chee Meng and NTUC’s President Mary Liew (via NTUC)

The NTUC secretary-general role is an NTUC-elected position

The reason I’m writing this article is because I’ve had enough of the confusion I see online.

It appears that some people are under the impression that Ng Chee Meng cannot be the secretary-general since he lost his parliamentary seat in the nation’s General Election last week. This also means that Ng has to relinquish his Cabinet post of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

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I repeat: Ng was elected into the NTUC’s Cental Committee (CC) by union delegates at the national level last October, and then the CC members elected him to be the sec-gen.

So yeps, in short, the sec-gen role is an NTUC-elected position.

Hence there’s nothing at all surprising that Ng would stay on as the labour chief, but having lost his parliamentary seat, would relinquish his Cabinet post of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Labour and Cabinet posts are independent of each other

Over the last 40 years, the NTUC secretary-general has also been a member of the Cabinet, Ms Mary Liew, the NTUC president, said in a media release earlier this week.

“It is upon the NTUC Central Committee’s request and mutual agreement that a Cabinet Minister is seconded to NTUC. Whilst the two roles have been inextricably linked, they are in fact independent of each other.”

Ng reiterated this point in a Facebook post on Tuesday, “While the role of the Labour Chief and Cabinet Minister have been inextricably linked and has served workers well, they are in fact independent.”

Ng went on to assure all that despite losing the Sengkang GRC to the Workers Party team, he will continue as the Secretary-General of NTUC and fulfill his elected role in NTUC.

He promised to continue to serve workers who have given him their trust, to work alongside them and to be their voice.

“I am humbled and honoured by the strong support and encouragement from my sisters and brothers in the Labour Movement, in particular that of the NTUC Central Committee.”

Outpouring of support from unions for Ng Chee Meng

From what I can see from Facebook, there has been a rather strong show of support from the unions for the Labour Chief.

Some have expressed gratitude for what Ng has done for the workers. Some have shared examples of the positive changes Ng has brought about.

One common thread unifying all the unions’ post is their pledge to soldier on with the NTUC-elected secretary-general to carry on the work of doing more for the workers and doing right by the workers.

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And yes, they all still call him Brother, LOL!

Some interesting, and perhaps lesser-known, nuggets that these posts surfaced include:

  • Ng had asked Gardens by the Bay for give free tickets to union members from less affluent families. Some 237,000 union members and their families have benefitted.
  • Ng was instrumental in helping the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union to expand their network and facilitate the formation of their Company Training Committees (CTCs) with their partner companies.
  • The aerospace sector has been badly hit by COVID-19 and Ng has been instrumental in initiating early talks with agencies and pushing very hard for support programmes to cushion the impact on the workers.
  • Scoot Staff Union revealed how Ng has been working tirelessly behind the scenes, from getting them protective masks when supply was short, to securing additional funding support from the government to help in their training initiatives.
  • Scoot Staff Union also shared how during CNY earlier this year, Ng was at the airport to send the crew off when rescue flights were mounted to Wuhan to bring home our fellow Singaporeans. He didn’t have to do it, but he wanted to lend his support and encouragement.
  • UWEEI shared they’d seen how Ng would focus on the critical need for workers to keep pace with skills training amidst technological developments. The union said it was clear Ng had one objective in mind – jobs preservation.

Check out the full posts below.

For Ng Chee Meng, it’s back to “Jobs Jobs Jobs” for the workers

Meanwhile, Ng is wasting no time in lamenting his GE loss, he is already back to his Labour Movement work rightaway. As he’d said,

“There will be tough days ahead with the COVID-19 challenges. Together with union leaders and my NTUC colleagues, we will stay the course to care for and do right by our workers.”

No time to waste.

In fact, he was already on the ground at RWS due to the retrenchment news.

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RWS has not confirmed any numbers, but it is rumoured that some 2,000 out of its 7,000 workforce will be let go. And this retrenchment exercise is a last resort as they have already reportedly reviewed all costs, eliminated non-essential spending and reduced the salaries of management by up to 30 per cent.

RWS has also worked with the union to retain a vast majority of Singapore employees in this one-off retrenchment exercise. It added that all affected staff will get fair compensation.

The market practice for retrenchment benefits is two weeks to a month of salary for every year clocked. Unionised companies tend to see higher payout as the unions will negotiate for the best possible benefits for the affected workers.

RWS is working with the Government and various agencies, including NTUC, to help the retrenched workers find new jobs. According to Labour Chief Ng Chee Meng,

“AREU (i.e. the union) and NTUC’s Employment & Employability Institute (e2i) have worked with RWS to pre-match two to three potential job opportunities to affected workers to speed up their job search.”

RWS added that retained staff will be trained to drive growth in its RWS 2.0 transformation, which was announced in April last year as a $4.5 billion project to revolutionise visitor experience at the integrated resort.

The RWS 2.0 transformation project will see an addition of more than 164,000 sq m of gross floor area. New facilities will include a waterfront complex comprising two hotels, retail component and additions to Universal Studios Singapore (USS).

Retained staff can look forward to reskilling for new jobs such as roles in predictive analytics, environmental services, and entertainment support for new zones in USS.


(Featured image via NTUC)

2 years as NTUC’s Secretary-General, Ng Chee Meng gets better & better at identifying what workers really need


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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

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