SINGAPORE: The Labour Movement has paid tribute to the late former President S R Nathan calling him a "brother in arms, worker's keeper and people's leader" in a condolence letter to his wife.
The letter was handed to Mrs Nathan on Tuesday evening (Aug 23) by the president of the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) Mary Liew and NTUC's Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing at a private wake at Mr Nathan's home.
The letter, penned by Ms Liew and Mr Chan on behalf of the Labour Movement, lauded Mr Nathan for his "indomitable and fearless fighting spirit" in the 1960s when he worked in NTUC's Labour Research Unit, first as assistant director, then director. During this period, Mr Nathan helped win over the trust of workers and unions, including that of pro-communist unions, despite the political, economic and social odds, they wrote.
"He was all hands on when negotiating for workers and encouraged union leaders to stay rooted to the cause; be close to the ground; and change with the times with an eye for the future.
"He showed union leaders what it meant to stand tall against irresponsible employers and be a responsible Labour Movement that prized co-operation over confrontation; and tripartism over self-interest," Ms Liew and Mr Chan added.
Both recounted that when Mr Nathan visited NTUC in May, he was visibly happy and was at times "fiery" when sharing his thoughts about the Labour Movement. "We will miss his inspiring stories and insightful lessons about being our brothers' and sisters' keeper and how our Labour Movement needs to be at the forefront of economic and social changes so that the benefits go to all our people."
In 1983, Mr Nathan was appointed a trustee of NTUC and was conferred the Meritorious Service Award on May Day for continued selfless service to the Labour Movement. He was one of 50 people who received the special NTUC 50 Award at NTUC's 50th anniversary dinner in 2011.