PM Lee calls for pioneer generation of unionists to be honoured

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged Singaporeans to honour the pioneer generation of unionists by building upon their achievements, in his May Day message on Wednesday.

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Here is PM Lee's May Day message in full:

Singapore is undergoing a major transition. Our economy is upgrading qualitatively, and expanding less quickly than before. Last year we did well: Growth was 4.1 per cent, and wages and household incomes rose broadly. This year we expect to grow 2-4 per cent, which is typical of a maturing economy.

We are strengthening our social safety nets to give Singaporeans more peace of mind. MediShield Life and the expanded Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) will help Singaporeans meet their medical needs. Permanent GST Vouchers will offset daily expenses. Larger education and pre-school subsidies will benefit all families, especially the lower-income. The Pioneer Generation Package will honour and help the seniors who started us on this nation-building journey.

Amidst this transition, our goal remains constant: To improve Singaporeans' lives. An important strategy is to develop better workers and create better jobs. This is the only sustainable way to raise wages.

Better workers

We are upgrading workers' skills by investing heavily in Continuous Education and Training (CET). We have built two new CET Institutes - the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability in Jurong, and the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar. They will enable more workers to upgrade themselves and advance their careers.

Better jobs

We are also creating better jobs for Singaporeans. This year's Budget included generous incentives to help companies raise productivity. We are also attracting high-quality investments. Lucasfilm has set up its Sandcrawler base in Singapore, producing thrilling digital movies for audiences worldwide. ExxonMobil just opened its second cracker on Jurong Island.

We are collaborating with neighbouring countries to create more opportunities overseas, whether in Iskandar Malaysia, our G-to-G projects in China, or one of the five Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks. We are also expanding our export markets through several free trade agreements with the European Union and our Trans-Pacific partners.

Developing better workers and creating better jobs is our collective responsibility. Each tripartite partner must do their part: Workers must make the effort to train and upgrade themselves. Employers must invest in workers, develop their skills, and make full use of their talents. Only then will the Government's programmes bear fruit. By working together, we strengthen our model of tripartism, and keep it our lasting competitive advantage.

Better lives

Our Pioneer Generation overcame long odds to set Singapore on the path to development. In the unions, many pioneers fought the Communists and worked with the Government to foster constructive labour-management relations, build a competitive economy and deliver better lives for all. Let us honour them by upholding their spirit, building on their achievements and creating an even better Singapore for our children.

I wish all Singaporeans a Happy May Day!