At the annual May Day Rally organized by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) today, Secretary-General Lim Swee Say gave tribute to workers while Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Labour Day hinted of an impending election and why Singapore needs outstanding leadership to remain an exceptional nation.
PM Lee’s announcement took a load of media attention off Lim Swee Say, who was giving his last speech as the Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), before he “flows on” to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
For all the negative talk about useless unions in Singapore, where else in the world can you find a union leader parachuted into a labour ministry to (hopefully) make changes that favour workers?
Labour Day, which is typically a day where unions in other countries strike, was a day meant to honour workers and their contributions.
Lim Swee Say gave tribute to workers who were instrumental in Singapore’s push for modernization, globalization and futurization.
Sounds like a mouthful, especially this new word he coined: futurization. It’s supposed to mean being future-ready, future-proof.
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While unions in other countries are striking to just get the basics right (raising minimum wages and working conditions), Singapore unions are busy with a different agenda: futurizing our workforce.
This is a massive, long term nationwide task for the next Secretary-General of NTUC. It’s not simply about protecting workers’ jobs anymore, but ensuring they still have the skills to find a job should their current job be obsolete.
For if we don’t have the skills to attract companies to bring their businesses here, it will not be too far long before we become maids in other countries.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong started off his May Day Rally speech with PAP and unions hadvingintertwined beginnings, how Mr Lee Kuan Yew fought for postal workers in 1952 and led them on a successful strike, and declared May Day a national holiday in 1960.
To commenters who say it’s not hard to be a minister or PM, since we already have a good system and civil servants know what to do, PM Lee used the analogy of a Mercedes F1 car and Lewis Hamilton to illustrate why a good driver is important to win.
He also spoke about how tripartism (how government, unions and employers work together to further Singapore’s interests) made Singapore exceptional, and NTUC effective at improving workers lives.
He shared about the difficulty of getting good leaders and leadership renewal being the most important issue in the next elections.
What Singaporeans will have to carefully consider is how their actions will affect the continuation of our nation’s exceptional legacy for our children and beyond.