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Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Review of Industrial Relations Act

Notice Paper No. 328 of 2013 For The Sitting On 21 Oct 2013
Question No. 1432 For Written Answer

MP: Mr Patrick Tay Teck Guan

To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower if he will provide an update on the review of the Industrial Relations Act with the tripartite partners.


  1. A Tripartite Workgroup was formed earlier this year to review the Industrial Relations Act (IR Act), specifically to see how managers and executives can be better represented by trade unions. Managers and executives now form more than 30% of the workforce and their proportion is expected to increase further in the coming years.
  2. The Tripartite Workgroup has submitted its recommendations to the Ministry after consultations with employer groups and union leaders. MOM supports the recommendations of the Workgroup and intends to make the necessary legislative changes to effect them. Allow me to now give an outline of the proposed key changes.
  3. The Workgroup recommends building on the 2002 amendment to the IR Act to allow rank-and-file unions to represent managers and executives for collective representation. In 2002, limited representation was introduced in the IR Act, to allow rank-and-file unions to represent managers and executives on certain industrial matters on an individual basis. Senior management and certain categories of management will continue to be excluded from collective representation so that management effectiveness is not eroded. Matters such as promotion, transfer, employment, termination, dismissal and assignment of duties for employees will continue to remain the prerogative of employers and not form part of collective representation.
  4. The Government has noted the concerns from employers that managers and executives are a more heterogeneous group with different needs. Their nature of work and reward systems have also evolved to be relatively individualised. Unions also recognise these trends and will continue to reach out to better understand and serve the needs of managers and executives.
  5. Today, managers and executives can join rank and file unions for limited representation. However, some have asked if an additional option could be created for them to join a rank-and-file union for collective representation, if they wish. The proposed change will enrich the landscape and give more options to managers and executives to work with unions and their employers on modalities and arrangements that will better suit their specific needs. The effective implementation of these changes will serve the long-term interests of business, employees and unions in Singapore, as well as strengthen the tripartite partnership.
  6. MOM will also be conducting a public consultation exercise to solicit wider public feedback on the proposed amendments to the IR Act. The Tripartite Workgroup will concurrently work out a set of guidelines to guide implementation on the ground so that the new amendments can be implemented smoothly.
  7. I would like to thank the Tripartite Workgroup for its work. My Ministry plans to introduce the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill in Parliament next year after the public consultations.