SINGAPORE: The tripartite consensus to raise the retirement age and re-employment age beyond 62 and 67 respectively is a “significant milestone” that will provide more assurance to seniors who wish to continue working, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on Monday (Apr 29).
“I am confident it will motivate both workers and employers to invest in skills upgrading and job redesign for older workers,” she said in her May Day Message.
The tripartite workgroup was set up last May to look at whether the current retirement age and the re-employment age need to be changed, as well as examine the impact of CPF contribution rates on retirement adequacy of older workers, among other things.
In March, Mrs Teo had announced during her ministry’s Committee of Supply debate that the Government, unions and employers had reached a consensus on the closely-watched issue. During the Budget debates, Nominated MP and veteran unionist Arusu Duraisamy had asked for the retirement age to be raised from 62 to 65, and the re-employment age from 67 to 70.
In his May Day message, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said that while this is the Labour Movement’s “aspiration”, the workgroup needs more time to iron out details.
On Monday, Mrs Teo said that the workgroup will provide its detailed recommendations later this year, on how far and how fast the retirement and re-employment ages should be raised, as well as the CPF contribution rates for workers aged 55 and above.
But in the meantime, she added, workplaces should continue to be made more age-friendly. She said to boost such efforts, MOM will review the WorkPro and Special Employment Credit schemes.
NEED TO FOCUS ON PRESENT-DAY CONCERNS
But even as Singapore plans for these “longer-term moves”, Mrs Teo stressed that it is equally important to address present-day concerns. She pointed out that although the labour market performed better last year, with wages rising and unemployment and retrenchments down, there are still workers seeking jobs or career advancement.
“Measures to tighten foreign workforce controls will keep up the pace of restructuring, and nudge employers to improve job quality to meet staffing needs,” she said. “Technology will also change the jobs landscape, presenting both challenges and opportunities.”
“We will walk the tech journey with our workers, so that they can access good jobs our economy continues to create,” she added, pointing to the Adapt and Grow initiative, which helped more than 30,000 workers take up new jobs. This, she said, is an increase of about 20 per cent over 2017.
Nearly 5,000 people were reskilled and placed into new jobs through more than 100 Professional Conversion Programmes, with many getting wage increases. Furthermore, SkillsFuture benefitted about 465,000 Singaporeans through a wide range of lifelong learning programmes in 2018, she said.
Mrs Teo also explained how the Government will help uplift low-wage workers through a 3W framework, which focuses on Workfare, Workright and Workcare.
The recently enhanced Workfare Income Supplement will boost the incomes of some 440,000 Singaporean workers by up to 30 per cent, while Workright will help workers better understand key employment rights and ensure employers fulfil their obligations.
The Workcare initiative is, Mrs Teo said, the latest addition to enhance the welfare of low-wage workers such as the provision of rest areas, and promote greater appreciation of these workers by society at large.
She added that the updated Progressive Wage Model has benefitted more than 70,000 workers in the security, landscape and cleaning sectors. It will be extended to lift technicians over the next three years.
In concluding her message, Mrs Teo noted that the NTUC has been a steadfast partner to the Government and employers since 1969.
This is the 50th anniversary of the Labour Movement’s landmark Modernisation Seminar, marking the critical decision to move away from a confrontational to a cooperative approach with employers.
“As we celebrate the remarkable contributions of our workers, we should also reaffirm the achievements of our unique brand of tripartism,” said Mrs Teo. “Tripartism was and remains the biggest strength of Singapore in forging new paths for our workers.
“Let us re-commit to working together, as one united Tripartite Movement, to create a brighter future for our people, our businesses and our nation.”