NTUC to help Changi Airport, SME workers boost earnings

NTUC to help Changi Airport, SME workers boost earnings

SINGAPORE - The labour movement is going to target two key areas of the Singapore workforce as part of its ongoing effort to help workers earn better wages and move up the ranks.

First, it plans to work more closely with "major employment hubs" that employ large numbers of people, including low-wage workers.

Changi Airport has already been identified as one such employer that the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) wants to engage more closely with, said labour chief Lim Swee Say last Wednesday.

"There are more than 10,000 workers there. Many of the employers and contractors should adopt (our) Progressive Wage Model (PWM)," said Mr Lim.

The PWM, launched in June, seeks to help workers move up the four closely linked ladders of skills upgrading, productivity improvement, career advancement and wage progression.

"Today, if you walk into Changi Airport, the building is beautiful, the toilets are beautiful, the shopping mall and restaurants are beautiful, but the salaries of many of the workers there are not beautiful," said Mr Lim at an event held at the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

"We are going to target some of these major locations and bring the management together, and go through the whole process together with them," he added.

Another group that the NTUC has its eye on are the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), many of which have shared that they need more help to adopt a suitable progressive wage model in their organisations.

"Through our interaction with the SMEs, it's not that they are not progressive, but they don't have the know-how and they need more hand-holding," Mr Lim said.

One way being studied is to use NTUC's e2i facility to better engage SMEs and learn from one another's best practices.

Giving an update on the progress of the PWM so far since it was launched in June, Mr Lim said that he was "quite encouraged" by the progress so far, with eight of the NTUC's 12 union clusters having already embarked on some form of PWM for the different industries and groups of workers.

Among these clusters are education, healthcare, hospitality and transport, where systematic plans have been rolled out to different sectors and companies to help boost the wages of workers.

Within the unionised sectors, NTUC thinks that the PWM could help about 100,000 workers in the next 2-3 years.

Mr Lim later reiterated a point he made earlier this month that Singapore was now in a "new reality" where slower job growth of less than 2 per cent had to be expected for the next 10-20 years.

Workers had to accept the fact that wage increases could be sustained only through the upgrading of skills and productivity, as well as taking on greater responsibilities to advance further in their careers, he said.

As for businesses, Mr Lim said that, even as the economy endured this period of slower job growth, they could still do well if they retained workers and made the most of their abilities.

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