TL;DR- DPM Lawrence Wong reinforces Government’s commitment to workers at May Day Rally 2023
The May Day Rally 2023, which took place earlier this morning at Suntec City Convention Centre was graced by union leaders, key representatives from the Labour Movement and tripartite partners.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong gave a speech during the Rally. Pretty long speech but lots of good stuff, especially for workers in Singapore.
Want to shine in these dark times? Reskill and upskill!
DPM Wong spoke about the dire global economic landscape caused by the pandemic and the escalating geo-politic conflicts. Things are not going to be rosy and easy for a while as the odds are stacked against Singapore. Our nation is currently facing fierce competition to compete which in turn, will affect how we grow our economy.
But he is confident Singapore will pull through with enough ingenuity and innovation, guts and gumption to adapt, adjust and innovate to make a living in this current environment.
Thus, he stressed that refreshing and enhancing the compact with workers is the top priority for the 4G leaders.
He reiterated the Labour Movement’s motto that jobs are the best forms of welfare for our workers.
DPM Wong said, “we must expect jobs to change over time. New technologies and more productive ways of doing things will happen, and existing jobs will be made obsolete. But new ones will be created, and these will be more productive and higher value-added jobs.
“… we are studying how we can invest more in every worker – to help them take ownership of their own careers, to continuously reskill and upskill, and take up better jobs and opportunities throughout their working lives,” he added.
With the rise of automation and AI, many jobs that were once considered safe are now at risk of being replaced by machines. This means that workers need to be able to adapt to new technologies and learn new skills in time.
DPM Wong cited that through the Forward Singapore exercise, more focus will be invested in ensuring how to support every worker to continuously reskill and upskill so that they can remain competitive and ready to embrace opportunities over the course of their careers.
Every Worker Matters Conversations
He added the feedback gathered from NTUC’s “Every Worker Matters” Conversations has contributed to the review for the Forward Singapore exercise.
Some of these key areas are:
💪Uplifting lower-wage workers by narrowing the wage gap, ensuring dignity and respect for every job and every worker.
💪Providing more support for displaced and retrenched workers by reducing their financial strain, helping them upskill to get back to work and bounce back stronger
💪Enabling all workers to meet retirement needs so that they can enjoy peace of mind in their golden years.
He said the government will work closely with NTUC to look into all these issues and work on possible solutions so that “we can provide good jobs and opportunities, and better assurance to all our workers.
DPM Wong acknowledged that workers are concerned about other things besides jobs, such as the cost of living and reiterated the various comprehensive support measures from this year’s Budget, which will help to support and cover the increase in spending for lower and middle-income households.
“We have done everything we can to lessen the stresses and strains that people feel on the ground, and we will continue to do so.” he added.
Tripartism is the secret recipe that has kept us going
In his speech, DPM Lawrence Wong spoke about the importance of strengthening tripartism and the symbiotic partnership between NTUC-PAP. He said, “Tripartism is our secret recipe. It is one of our greatest and most sustainable competitive advantages.”
Fact: with tripartism, the PAP government, unions and employers have worked together to make harmonious labour relations a lasting competitive advantage of Singapore. It has helped overcome manpower challenges, created jobs and boosted Singapore’s economic competitiveness. In short, tripartism has empowered our workers and shaped our nation’s overall progress since independence.
He cited several examples of labour unrest happening around the world, for example, riots and strikes in France since early this year and unions in the UK going on strike fighting against low wage growth.
“It becomes a vicious cycle because once trust is lost, it’s very hard to recover. We must never allow this to happen here. Fortunately, Singapore is on the right track. We have a lot going for us. Our tripartite approach ensures that Team Singapore has the best chance of overcoming challenges and seizing new opportunities.”
DPM Wong highlighted the foundation of tripartism is built on the symbiotic partnership between NTUC and PAP.
“We are sibling organisations – we originated from the same movement,” he said.
Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew represented the postal workers’ union as a lawyer and spokesman at the postmen’s strike in 1953 and won against the colonial government.
When he launched the PAP the following year, many of its founding members were unionists, including Mr Devan Nair and Mr Othman Wok.
DPM Lawrence Wong said, “We share the same objectives – to improve the lives of workers and Singaporeans, promote economic growth for all, and ensure social cohesion and stability. Through good times and bad, workers and unions have supported the PAP . The PAP, in turn, works closely with the NTUC to implement pro-worker laws and policies and ensures that NTUC has the resources to look after our workers.”
This close link has enabled unionists to shape the policies that affect workers, resulting in better wages, work prospects and welfare.
He added this special relationship is further affirmed in rallies by saying together in one voice, Majulah NTUC, Majulah PAP, Majulah Singapura.”
To conclude his speech, DPM Lawrence Wong reiterated the 4G team’s commitment to protecting workers’ interests for the long-haul.
“The 4G team and I are fully committed to look after our workers, to protect your interests, and help you earn a better living and live a better life.
The 4G team and I are fully committed to our partnership with the NTUC and Labour Movement: to work closely with you, and to secure sustained growth and good jobs for all.
Come what may, we will always be there with you, for you and we will always have your back.”