SINGAPORE: In his address on the first day of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) National Delegates’ Conference on Wednesday (Nov 22) at Orchid Country Club, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong explained why tripartism—the cooperation between the government, employers’ organizations and trade unions—is successful in Singapore.

“With the government leading the country in the right direction, it is much easier for the tripartite partners to work together to create prosperity and share the fruits of growth,” he said in his last address to the delegates, as he will be stepping down. He also quoted his father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, in his speech, who said, “The PAP has been a workers’ movement and has always received the support of the workers. A PAP government is a government on the workers’ side.”

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PM Lee noted that the PAP government aims to grow the economy and ensure that every worker benefits from this growth. These include good housing, healthcare, and education, which the government subsidizes.

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“We not only create good jobs but educate and train workers to enable them to perform these jobs. And that is why Singaporeans can look forward to better wages, higher standards of living, and brighter opportunities,” he said.

The first day of the conference was attended by around 1,500 union delegates, NTUC Central Committee members, cabinet ministers, and tripartite partners. Mr Ng Chee Meng, NTUC Secretary-General, also spoke on the progress of the Labour Movement in the past four years, saying that NTUC is on its way to reaching the target it set in 2019 to have 1.5 million members by 2030.

“Our membership is expected to reach 1.27 million by the end of 2023. This marks a remarkable 30 per cent growth since NDC 2019,” he said, adding,  “It is both a show of strength to what we can achieve together as a Labour Movement and a testament to how our innovations have upped our Labour Movement’s relevance in a very much changed world.”

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In a Facebook post, Mr Ng noted that it was bittersweet to hear PM Lee’s speech, given that he will be stepping down.

“I cannot be more grateful for his encouragement, recognition, and full support to NTUC, towards the work that we do in serving workers,” he wrote, adding that he had been encouraged by the Prime Minister’s words. /TISG