PM Lee’s May Day Message: A Brighter Outlook of Singapore in a Post COVID-19 World
Written by: Dawn Lee
"Tripartism and cooperation have been far more effective in securing workers' welfare and livelihoods than militancy and conflict," said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
In this year's May Day Message, Mr Lee praised the unions' role in ensuring "retrenchments were carried out fairly and responsibly," as job losses were unavoidable during the COVID-19 crisis.
In fact, the NTUC’s Job Security Council directly helped more than 28,000 workers find new jobs, as well as provided financial support through the NTUC Care Fund (COVID-19). NTUC also partnered with the Government to implement the Self- Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS).
Mr Lee also said that the Labour Movement "maintained its collaborative stance" to work with the workers and persuaded them to "sacrifice today for the promise of a better tomorrow".
A Brightened Outlook in Singapore
Compared to the year before, Singapore's outlook has "brightened considerably", said Mr Lee. He added that the global recession is turning out to be less protracted than initially feared.
"While Europe still struggles with fresh waves of COVID-19, the US expects to make a strong recovery this year, on the back of a large stimulus package and good progress in vaccinating its population. China’s economy is doing well too, with hardly any cases in the country," said Mr Lee, with "external trends support our own economic recovery, and justify confidence in our prospects".
Singapore's unemployment rate is going down, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) forecasting a 4 to 6 per cent GDP growth, which may allow Singapore to bounce back to "where we were before COVID-19 struck," according to Mr Lee.
A Need for Transformation Singapore’s Economy, through the Identification of New Solutions
With the sudden arrival of COVID-19, Mr Lee mentioned that it has "accelerated trends like digitalisation, automation, and sustainability, across all sectors," it is thus imperative to "transform our economy for a different, post-COVID-19 world". Mr Lee further added that Singapore's current workforce is becoming more diverse, with everyone, whether freelancers, entrepreneurs, mature workers or fresh graduates, facing different employment challenges. To add on further, it was recognised that each group needs customized policies and solutions.
NTUC has formed 600 Company Training Committees (CTCs) to work with firms to identify possible "capability gaps, co-create new jobs, and train workers for these firms". These CTCs show how NTUC is making itself relevant, and finding new solutions to secure better jobs for workers.
While Singapore's model of trade unionism and tripartism has been criticised, especially in the west, "union membership has risen consistently in Singapore". This tripartite model has seen Singapore through some of the other crises faced by Singapore, such as the Asian Financial Crisis, the SARS pandemic, and the global financial crisis.
Mr Lee ended his message by stating that the "guiding principle of tripartism has always been to stay united and progress together. This May Day, let us recommit ourselves to strengthening this partnership, and building a brighter future for Singapore for the next 60 years and beyond."