SINGAPORE: Former Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Saturday (May 5) was conferred the National Trades Union Congress’ (NTUC) Distinguished Comrade of Labour award – the highest accolade for its May Day Awards this year.
The former NTUC secretary-general received the award in light of his “positive impact in the lives and livelihood of our workers”, said the Labour Movement in a media release.
The Distinguished Comrade of Labour award is conferred on individuals who have made “unique and supreme contributions” to NTUC.
Past recipients of the award include former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong (2001), former President Ong Teng Cheong (1994), as well as the late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (1991).
In its release, the Labour Movement noted that Mr Lim, who first joined NTUC in 1996, had helped workers weather through two financial crises during his tenure.
“As the executive secretary of two major industrial unions, he led the drive to enhance the employability of workers to minimise structural unemployment after Singapore was hit by the Asia financial crisis in 1997," NTUC said.
Mr Lim also helped retrenched workers and job seekers to secure new jobs so as to minimise unemployment and underemployment, it added.
In 2009, when the global financial crisis brought various economies to their knees, Mr Lim’s leadership and strong relationship with the tripartite partners cushioned the impact on workers in Singapore, NTUC said.
“As he rallied the workers together, he also persuaded employers to agree to cut costs to save jobs and the Government responded with measures to help businesses keep jobs for our workers. As a result, Singapore was able to ‘upturn the downturn’,” NTUC said.
After leaving NTUC in 1999 to join the government, Mr Lim returned in 2004 where he forged ahead to build “an inclusive Labour Movement for all collars, ages and nationalities”, it said.
NTUC also announced on Saturday that Mr Lim has been appointed as one of its trustees to watch over its assets.
Mr Lim, who retired from the Cabinet on Tuesday, has also been named as chairman of NTUC’s administration and research unit (ARU) board of trustees, as well as advisor to its training council.