SINGAPORE: The late Othman Wok played a central role in fighting for higher wages for union members and workers, as well as in putting NTUC on the international arena, said NTUC president Mary Liew and secretary-general Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Apr 17).
In a jointly penned a letter of condolence to Mr Othman’s family, they noted that Mr Othman served the labour movement with "unwavering determination and dedication".
Their letter of condolence is reproduced below:
Dear Puan Lina,
The National Trades Union Congress, our affiliated unions and all in the Labour Movement family share your grief over the passing of your husband, Brother Haji Othman Bin Wok, and extend our condolences to you and your family.
Brother Othman served the Labour Movement from 1951 to 1962 as the Honorary Secretary of the Singapore Printing Employees’ Union. Representing workers from local newspapers and publishing houses, Brother Othman played a central role in fighting for higher wages and better working conditions for union members and workers. In 1953, he led the union on a strike in the fight for higher wages and fairer treatment for workers of the Malaya Publishing House. Likewise, in 1954, he fought for workers of the Straits Times Press.
Brother Othman also played a valuable role in putting NTUC on the international arena. In 1963, he accompanied Brother Devan Nair, then NTUC’s Secretary-General, to the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation meeting in Tanzania and lobbied hard for Singapore’s membership into the forum. Being a member of the forum was critical to NTUC and the nation’s efforts to win the wider domestic support in the on-going struggle against pro-communist elements in Singapore then.
Always with workers' interests in his heart, during his time as the Minister of Social Affairs and Culture, Brother Othman called upon employers to adopt a mindset change in workplace practices by providing time for employees to go for sports and recreational activities. He was a strong believer that a physically fit and healthy worker is a happy and efficient worker.
Brother Othman has served the Labour Movement with unwavering determination and dedication. His legacy, comradeship and contributions will remain with us for many generations to come and he will be deeply missed by all in the Labour Movement.