Labour movement seeks to stay relevant and representative amid disruptive changes

Labour movement seeks to stay relevant and representative amid disruptive changes

Chan Chun Sing NTUC
National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing. (Photo: Calvin Hui)

SINGAPORE: Amid disruptive changes in the labour landscape, the labour movement must remain relevant to meet the needs of a diverse group of workers, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Chan Chun Sing said to the media on Tuesday (Apr 25).

Beyond representing workers through the unions, NTUC has also set up four other "limbs" to better represent the various segments of the workforce.

These include an initiative to support workers in small- and medium-sized enterprises (U SME), one to support professionals, managers and executives (U Associates), another to support freelancers and the self-employed (U FSE) as well as one for migrant workers.

These are what NTUC collectively calls the U Network, which serves about 1.25 million Singaporeans.

Said Mr Chan: “From the workers' perspective, we are concerned about three particular things. The first is how quickly and how able they are to transit between one career and the next. The second is, when they are in between jobs, how we can help take care of their financial and emotional needs. And the third is with more frequent changes, over our entire lifetimes, how we can ensure they have adequate retirement planning."

With economic cycles becoming more volatile and people going through more changes in their careers, NTUC is also adapting its services to meet such needs.

Mr Chan emphasised that while methods may change, the mission of taking care of workers will not change. 

For instance, NTUC is launching the U Career Network to meet the training needs of workers. NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute and NTUC LearningHub will help workers bridge skill gaps more quickly through new training methods.

NTUC is also partnering with 14 institutes of higher learning. These partnerships will focus on both content and pedagogy.

Mr Chan explained that the labour movement must also assist workers with the expectation that they will see more change across the span of their careers. One such way NTUC is tackling the changing nature of jobs is through the setting up of the Future Jobs, Skills and Training department announced last year, to help match workers to jobs that may emerge in the future.

Mr Chan said that it was important to equip the unemployed with skills they can use in new industries of the future.

"Tomorrow's unemployed refers to those who may be displaced in time to come. But we have to equip them with the skill sets way before they become unemployed, and to identify those new industries, point them in that direction, encourage and enable them to get into those industries."

Beyond training services and job placements, NTUC is also looking to develop its social enterprises outside of FairPrice and Income, to look at areas such as health and eldercare, and meet the different needs of people through different stages of their life.

Source: CNA/nc