SINGAPORE: Union members who have lost income due to the COVID-19 outbreak can receive up to S$300 in a one-off cash relief, NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng announced on Wednesday (Mar 18).
This is part of S$25 million committed by the Government, NTUC and its affiliated unions and associations to the NTUC Care Fund (COVID-19).
Union members who have been retrenched with retrenchment benefits of not more than S$6,500 are eligible for the fund.
Those with dependents who originally earned up to S$3,400 gross monthly personal income (GPI), or those without dependents who originally earned up to S$1,500 GPI, and have either lost at least 30 per cent of their monthly earnings due to COVID-19, or are self-employed and have seen their incomes affected by COVID-19 related job or event cancellations, are also eligible for the cash relief.
Existing eligible union members with dependents staying in the same household will receive S$300, while existing eligible union members without dependents staying in the same household will receive S$100 instead.
As for union members who sign up after Mar 1, those with dependents staying in the same household will receive S$200. Those without dependents staying in the same household will receive S$50.
NTUC estimates that a total of 108,000 union members will benefit from the cash relief.
Appearing at Gardens by the Bay to give out care packages to frontline workers, Mr Ng spoke to taxi drivers, tour guides and retail workers.
The packages contained an assortment of items such as a bottle of sanitiser, tissues, vitamin C tablets, medicated oil and 100 plus isotonic drink.
"Today I met with tour guides and some taxi drivers. They tell me that their income has really been impacted - 50 per cent or so for taxi drivers. What used to be long queues that took half an hour to clear at Changi Airport now take three hours," he said.
"And tour guides are telling me that their income have plummeted - some have gone to zero. So we get this feedback and we took some time to see how we could help our workers."
Union members can apply for NTUC’s Care Fund (COVID-19) through their respective unions or through NTUC membership from Mar 25 to Sep 30.
This comes more than three weeks after Mr Ng said that NTUC would roll out a Care Fund for workers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
OTHER TYPES OF SUPPORT FOR AFFECTED UNION MEMBERS
Existing union members affected by COVID-19 may also turn to other programmes to get help with daily expenses, or to upgrade their skills during the downtime.
The CapitaLand-U Care Resilience and Enablement (CAP+Ure) Fund supports the children of workers who are experiencing a sudden loss in income. To support the children’s daily necessities and schooling needs, each eligible child will receive a one-time disbursement of S$250 NTUC FairPrice vouchers.
For members who would like to seek training, they can apply for LIFT-UP Pathfinder for customised training worth up to S$500. They can also apply for the Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) which defrays 50 per cent of unfunded course fees for union members for up to S$250 per year.
"This Care Fund is a show of solidarity and care for each other. It is a understandably tough time for many workers and we want to make sure that we take care of each other," said Mr Ng.
Answering a question on potential recommendations by the National Wages Council this year, Mr Ng said that the council hopes to finish no later than April, but did not elaborate on any possible recommendations.
On Tuesday, the Government revealed additional measures to help companies and workers cope with Malaysia’s new travel restrictions.
Companies affected by the travel restrictions will receive an allowance of S$50 per worker per night for 14 nights to cover the extra costs, while the Ministry of Manpower has also worked out short-term housing options for affected workers.
READ: Short-term housing options available for some workers who commute between Singapore and Malaysia frequently
Malaysia’s travel restrictions would ban Malaysians from travelling overseas and visitors from entering the country under a restricted movement order from Mar 18 to Mar 31.
Singapore’s Ministry of Health also reported on Tuesday the largest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases. Twenty-three new cases were reported, bringing Singapore’s total to 266.