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May Day Message 2024 by Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng

Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng

May Day is a time to honour the valuable contributions of our workers to our nation’s progress. We also celebrate the unity of the workforce and the vital symbiotic relationship amongst unions, employers and the Government. This year, I am again filled with gratitude for our longstanding and remarkable tripartism, which has enabled us to come together to set a clear course forward in a world fraught with uncertainties. 

Tripartism as Singapore’s Competitive Advantage

In 2023, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) co-led the Empower Pillar in the Forward Singapore Exercise, forging a refreshed social compact. NTUC also successfully conducted the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations. We heard the concerns, ideas, hopes and aspirations of workers across all segments. Together with the Singapore National Employers Federation, the tripartite partners will consider the feedback and work closely together to further the interests of both workers and employers.

That is how things are done in Singapore. Working with trust and in collaboration with one another to find win-win solutions, and to put ideas into action to overcome challenges together. We should be fully cognisant that we are the exception to the norm. Industrial relations in many countries have become more adversarial, leading to poorer outcomes for workers, employers, and even affecting the well-being of the society at large. We must continue to sustain tripartism as Singapore’s competitive advantage and work hand-in-hand to create a brighter future for Singapore and Singaporeans.

Empowering all workers

Workforce transformation is a key priority for us. By helping our workers stay relevant and our businesses stay competitive, we enlarge our economic pie so that there is more for everyone. Employers who invest in the career health of their workers can better attract and retain talent. To this end, we have enhanced Workforce Singapore’s Career Conversion Programme by increasing the cap on salary support and monthly training allowance for attachments. We will also be launching the Overseas Markets Immersion Programme that will support employers in sending their local workers overseas for new market exposure and reskilling. Earlier, we had also set aside $100 million to support NTUC in its efforts to scale up enterprise and workforce transformation through Company Training Committees, which benefit workers and employers by bringing about better career prospects and productivity.

We will also support workers with access to relevant jobs and skills insights to help you plan for your careers for the longer term and better navigate different career opportunities.  The CareersFinder digital feature on MyCareersFuture harnesses data and AI to enable Singaporeans explore pathways to acquire new skills and reach their career goals. I hope more workers use these opportunities to set longer career goals and take concrete actions towards them.

Upholding fair and merit-based workplaces practices is also another key priority for MOM. We will continue to work with tripartite partners to shape workplace norms in tandem with the upcoming Workplace Fairness Legislation that will strengthen protections for workers against workplace discrimination. We also launched the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA) Requests, which reflects our shared commitment towards making FWAs effective and sustainable for both workers and businesses. The tripartite partners have engaged many stakeholders and worked closely together to co-develop these initiatives.

In addition, we have made good progress in making our workplaces safer for workers. Last year, we attained the workplace fatal injury rate target of less than 1.0 per 100,000 workers for the first time, which only four OECD countries have achieved consistently. Our fatal and major injuries across Singapore workplaces in 2023 also reached a record-low for the decade. We must sustain this progress and keep everyone on the course in pursuing workplace safety and health excellence.

Supporting Senior Workers

For the growing population of older Singaporeans, the tripartite partners will step up support for retirement adequacy. We will empower senior workers to continue working if they wish, and are able to do so, by progressively increasing the retirement and re-employment ages to 65 and 70 by 2030. CPF contribution rates for senior workers will also be raised so that they can enter retirement with more confidence.

In addition, the Government is committed to uplifting those who need more support. The Majulah Package will support our “Young Seniors” who are currently in their fifties and sixties, who face unique challenges compared to younger Singaporeans. Beyond this, we will be enhancing the Workfare Income Supplement, Matched Retirement Savings Scheme and the Silver Support Scheme.

Uplifting Vulnerable Workers

No Singaporean will be left behind, especially vulnerable workers.  For lower-wage workers, we have expanded the Progressive Wage Model to include Retail, Food Services, Waste Management, Administrators and Drivers. Up to 9 in 10 lower-wage workers are benefitting from the suite of Progressive Wage moves. To support platform workers who are in a precarious situation, protections for them in the areas of work injury compensation, CPF and collective representation will be legislated and implemented later this year. This is a landmark move in employment legislation, and we are one of the first in the world to do so.

Reassuring involuntarily unemployed jobseekers

The pace of change in the economy is accelerating and we know that more workers will likely be thrown curveballs. We have heard and heeded the call to further support our workers who find themselves displaced through no fault of their own. We will be announcing a new support scheme for involuntarily unemployed jobseekers to help them bounce back better in the later part of this year.

The Way Forward Together

As a small and open economy, we will be affected by disruptions in an uncertain global environment, but we are bolstered by the trust and confidence we have in one another.  Let us prepare our workers to be ready for jobs of the future, and promote fair, progressive and safe workplaces that benefit both workers and employers.

Congratulations again to the Labour Movement. I am confident that with NTUC’s renewed leadership, the unions, employers and Government can shape a brighter future together.

Happy May Day everyone!