04 November 2010

Enabling more low-wage workers to enjoy the fruits of inclusive growth

04 November 2010

Last week, I chaired the inaugural meeting of the Tripartite Committee for Low-Wage Workers and Inclusive Growth.

We will build on the momentum and work done by the previous Tripartite Committee on CPF and Work-Related Benefits. Our top priority – to uplift low-wage workers (LWWs) and enable them to enjoy the fruits of Singapore’s economic growth, with inclusive growth for all.

During the meeting, Tricom members across the private sector, unions and government agencies shared their hopes and concerns for LWWs.
One important issue raised by Mr Ong Yen Her, our Divisional Director of the Labour Relations and Workplaces Division and Mr Ang Hin Kee from e2i, was how important is training for LWWs in securing gainful employment and advancement. We discussed this issue extensively and agreed that training is a fundamental step to allow LWWs to be job and vocation-ready. However for it to be meaningful and valuable, other factors such as employment opportunity as well as good employment practices and responsible outsourcing are also essential.

For a start, we will be intensifying the outreach efforts of the Workfare Training Support (WTS) scheme. Gainful employment is the best form of financial security, and I believe training provides workers with the skills for upward job mobility. To promote WTS, we will reach out to workers, employers and service buyers.

We recognize that market forces also play a critical role in determining the employment terms and conditions of LWWs. For example, how service buyers draw up their outsourcing contracts will have a direct impact on the workers who are employed to provide these services. The Singapore Cruise Centre is a good example of a buyer that has been responsible in its outsourcing practices. When procuring security services, the Singapore Cruise Centre states in its outsourcing contract that the security agency must provide its security officers with good HR practices and a certain level of training. A tangible benefit for Singapore Cruise Centre is that there are noticeable improvements in customer satisfaction, simply because the security officers are more engaged at work and offer a higher level of service. The company also expects better returns in terms of productivity and effectiveness with better trained officers.

The Tricom will continue to find ways to encourage service buyers to require their third-party contractors to adopt good employment and training practices, as well as redesign jobs and raise productivity to help their workers command higher wages.  I strongly believe that companies which are industry leaders should play a key role in setting standards and shaping industry practices.
I am elated by the enthusiasm of the members and thank them for agreeing to work together to help low-wage workers enjoy inclusive growth.

Hawazi Daipi
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower and Health
Chairman of the Tripartite Committee for Low-Wage Workers and Inclusive Growth

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