RH: ROBERT's ALMOST-COMPLETE ARCHIVE OF WORKS..... My other blog is "I came, I saw, I solved it" at http://i-came-i-saw-i-solved-it.blogspot.com/.......... Robert Ho REQUEST FOR STATEMENTS at http://roberthorequestforstatements.blogspot.com/2011/01/robert-ho-request-for-statements.html

Blog Archive


About Me

My photo
My archive of works is at http://i-came-i-saw-i-wrote-it.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 15, 2007

May Day! May Day!

May Day! May Day!

As we celebrate the public holiday of May Day on 1 May 2001, perhaps we should take stock of where the workers of Singapore are now and how they are being served by those who represent or mis-represent them.

First, workers in Singapore are supposed to be represented, and their interests served by, the NTUC or National Trades Union Congress, founded in 1961, as a national federation of trade unions of workers in the industrial, service and public sectors currently with 67 trade unions and 6 affiliated associations and a total membership of 322,000.

However, although it 'represents' 322,000 workers, it probably employs more than that number in its various businesses, from supermarkets to insurance, from operating childcare centres to building private houses. Its perspective is therefore, arguably, more of that of an employer than an employee, its mission more to make money than to look after its workers.

The following are some of the many businesses in which the NTUC has a finger in the pie: FairPrice, INCOME, Childcare, Choice Homes, Denticare, Eldercare, Foodfare, Healthcare, Media, Thrift, 8 Subsidiary Companies, 5 Associated Companies, Major share in one listed company, Orchid Country Club, Aranda Country Club, among others.

More tellingly, its chief is always a cabinet minister from the PAP, currently Lim Boon Heng. Of course, it may be possible for a ranking PAP man to wear many hats, such as that of being a PAP minister and that of being a trade unionist, but surely not two hats at the same time?

It is therefore suspect whether to Lim Boon Heng, the interests of the party comes first (and he is beholden to the party which appoints him) or the interests of the workers of Singapore, if and whenever these interests diverge.

For example, take the National Wages Council.

This is the supreme body which recommends (and its recommendations are almost always accepted into national wage policy) such things as wage increases for the year. On it are 3 parties: the government, the employers and -- instead of the workers, the NTUC! (For the current composition of the NWC, see below).

From just a cursory glance at the composition of the NWC, it is clear that firstly, even foreigners have a say on how much Singapore workers should be paid and how much they should get for an annual increment. Secondly, no workers are represented except through the NTUC, which, as shown above, cannot speak for all the workers, only a mere 322,000, and even then, there is the suspicion whether the NTUC speaks more for the government than the workers. There are several NTUC leaders who are also MPs but they are again, PAP MPs, and therefore come under the same cloud as their chief, Lim Boon Heng.

Note also that nobody in the NWC earns the typical worker's salary of about $1,000 to $2,000 a month. Everybody on the council earns more than that, most a great deal more. Can such a council then, do justice to the vast majority of workers who earn far less than them?

The trade union movement is just one of the many institutions that have become a 'casualty' of the PAP, meaning Lee Kuan Yew. The other casualties are known to all who attended the 28 April rally at Yio Chu Kang Stadium and heard Mr Jeyaretnam speak.

It is therefore no wonder that there hasn't been a strike or other industrial action by workers for decades. It is not that the workers are happy with their lot, it is that the workers are led by a conspiracy of the employers and the government, both of whom have an interest in not letting the workers articulate their wishes, or find somebody who can.

In the old days, unionists were even jailed without trial under the Internal Security Act, which is still law today. There is no need for that now because the PAP has taken over the business of the unions.

Thus May Day will come and go without real meaning, as so many May Days before it. Other countries may well celebrate the worker and his contributions, but in Singapore, it will be just another public holiday to do some shopping, probably at a FairPrice supermarket, visit a club, probably an NTUC one and perhaps catch up with some sleep, probably in an NTUC home.


Chairman, National Wages Council
Mr Lim Chong Yah
Professor of Economics, Nanyang Technological University

Government Representatives
Mr Eddie Teo
Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister's Office, Public Service Division

Mr Khaw Boon Wan
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade & Industry

Dr Tan Chin Nam
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Manpower

Mr Liew Heng San
Managing Director, Economic Development Board

Dr Lee Tsao Yuan
Director, Institute of Policy Studies

Union Representatives

Mr Lim Swee Say
Former Deputy Secretary-General
National Trades Union Congress
Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Ministry of Trade & Industry (w.e.f. 3 June 1999)

Mr John De Payva
Secretary-General, Singapore Manual & Mercantile Workers' Union

Mr Cyrille Tan
General Secretary, United Workers of Electronic & Electrical Industries

Mr Paul Tan
General Secretary, Amalgamated Union of Public Employees

Mr Tan Soon Yam
General Secretary, Food, Drinks & Allied Workers' Union

Employer Representatives

Mr Stephen C Y Lee
President, Singapore National Employers Federation

Mr Kwek Leng Joo
President, Singapore Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry

Mr Nobukatsu Manabe
Councillor, Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Singapore

Mr Edmund Huebner
Treasurer, German Business Association

Mr Gregory Brusberg
Chairman, The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore

Alternate Members
Mr Koh Juan Kiat
Executive Director, Singapore National Employers Federation

Mr Heng Chee How
Deputy Secretary-General, National Trades Union Congress

Mr Teoh Yong Sea
Assistant Managing Director (Planning), Economic Development Board

Mr Lau Chung Keong, Robin
Vice-President, Singapore Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry

Mr Seng Han Thong
Assistant Secretary-General, National Trades Union Congress

Mr Ong Yen Her
Divisional Director, Labour Relations and Welfare Division, Ministry of Manpower

Mr Boon Yoon Chiang
Council Member, Singapore Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry

Mr Nithiah Nandan
General Secretary, Union of Power and Gas Employees

Ms Lim Soo Hoon
Deputy Secretary (Policy), Prime Minister's Office, Public Service Division

Mr Yutaka Mizuno
Councillor, Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Singapore

Mr Ong Chin Ang
Director, Industrial Relations Department, National Trades Union Congress

Mr Tang Hsiu Chin
Deputy Director, Research and Planning, Ministry of Trade & Industry

Mr Ulrich Wasserbaech
Member, German Business Association

Mr Goh Wee Liam
Deputy Director, Corporate Development Department, NTUC

(NWC membership taken from http://www.gov.sg/mom/gen/mpnspec/members.htm)