SINGAPORE: The Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Ng Chee Meng, highlighted a concerning trend of increasing retrenchment numbers during a joint press conference held on 6 February, alongside President Robert Yap of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).
This announcement preceded the eagerly anticipated Singapore Budget Statement scheduled for 16 February 2024.
According to Mr Ng, workers have expressed growing apprehension regarding job security and the escalating cost of living.
The latest NTUC survey conducted between December 2023 and January 2024, encompassing approximately 2,000 workers, revealed alarming statistics.
Nearly 40% of Singaporean workers expressed fear of potential job loss in 2024, marking a significant surge from 25% in the previous year.
Despite maintaining a low unemployment rate of 1.9% in 2023 and witnessing the addition of 89,400 jobs, a notable increase from the 61,500 jobs added in pre-pandemic 2019.
Mr Ng cautioned that job growth has begun to decelerate.
He anticipated a challenging year ahead for workers, particularly regarding job security, citing a doubling of retrenchment figures and stagnating or declining wage growth.
In contrast, President Robert Yap of SNEF acknowledged certain positive aspects amidst the prevailing job shedding, noting its role in eliminating unproductive segments and fostering industry resilience.
However, he urged employers to engage with the alliance early on to facilitate proactive interventions aimed at preserving jobs or assisting workers in transitioning to new roles.
Addressing concerns over public support schemes, Dr Yap called for greater refinement, particularly regarding the Career Conversion Programmes.
He advocated for measures to mitigate risks for employers, thus enhancing the effectiveness and uptake of such initiatives.
Furthermore, the alliance advocated for increased support for caregivers and the implementation of flexible work arrangements to reintegrate women and older workers into the workforce, crucial considerations as Singapore’s population continues to age.
NTUC initiates committees to aid workers and sustains outreach endeavors
Fresh off a recent settlement negotiation concerning retrenchment terms with e-commerce firm Lazada, Mr Ng urges workers to consider union membership.
On 4 February, Mr Ng took to Facebook to announce the agreement resulting from discussions involving Lazada, NTUC, and the Food, Drinks, and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU), culminating in what he described as “an amicable settlement.”
The joint statement outlined a support package geared towards assisting eligible union members affected by the settlement.
Expressing gratitude for FDAWU’s involvement, Mr Ng emphasized the pivotal role unions play in representing and safeguarding their members’ interests.
In his online post, Mr Ng reassured workers that they are not alone, underscoring NTUC Singapore’s unwavering commitment to supporting its members.
He urged workers to consider joining NTUC and its affiliated unions, affirming their readiness to provide assistance and support.
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