SINGAPORE: The Government is firmly committed to tripartism, said Manpower Minister (MOM) Josephine Teo as she paid tribute to her predecessor Lim Swee Say on Monday (May 28).
Speaking at the ministry’s workplan seminar, Ms Teo said: “I want to reassure Swee Say that MOM is firmly committed to do everything we can and work with tripartite partners to keep it special for Singapore.”
Mr Lim’s “passion for tripartism” is one of the most memorable qualities about him, said Mrs Teo.
“When confronted by hostile companies who resisted unionisation, he did not give up trying to get the Labour movement a foot in the door. He encouraged the companies to get to know the unions through General Branch membership for their staff,” said Mrs Teo.
And when Singapore brought in integrated resorts, Mr Lim “systematically built up the Attractions, Resorts and Entertainment Union (AREU), which now has over 12,000 members,” she added.
He also championed tripartism overseas.
“For example, soon after Singapore’s quick recovery from the global financial crisis, he arranged for a special meeting at International Labour Conference in Geneva in 2010 for participants from all over the world to explain to them how tripartism had helped in our recovery,” she said.
Mrs Teo also said that Mr Lim has a knack for breaking down ideas down to their essence and communicating them in a catchy way.
During the global financial crisis, for example, he urged companies not to “cut jobs to save costs” but instead to “cut costs to save jobs”.
Mr Lim will also be remembered for his breakthrough approaches to age-old problems, said Mrs Teo.
When Mr Lim was secretary-general of NTUC, he pushed for progressive wages instead of minimum wages “so there’s not just a wage floor but a wage ladder”, and advanced the idea of re-employment age, she added.
As Manpower Minister, Mr Lim strengthened the Fair Consideration Framework and talked about local-foreign complementarity.
Mrs Teo also joked that Mr Lim used golf to "terrorise" employers, and broke many a deadlock on the golf course as it allowed them to build a level of trust.
“There is really no way we can thank Swee Say enough for all that he has done for the Labour Movement, Government, tripartism, Singapore’s economic development and water security,” she said.