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Written Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to PQ on review requirement for Singaporean staff of companies tendering for Government contract to be members of trade unions

NOTICE PAPER NO. 1969 OF 2019 FOR THE SITTING ON 4 FEBRUARY 2020

QUESTION NO. 1593 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

MP: Mr Gan Thiam Poh


To ask the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry will review and require all companies who are tendering for contracts called by the Government, statutory boards or town councils that their Singaporean workers must be members of the relevant trade unions.

Answer

  1. The Ministry of Manpower supports workers seeking membership in a union registered with the Registry of Trade Unions. They can benefit from union support and representation, in areas such as training and upskilling, collective bargaining and dispute resolution.
  2. However, it would be inappropriate to insist as a condition of Government contracts, that the contractors’ workers be union members. Such a condition could lead to perverse outcomes. For example, a contractor may feel compelled to terminate a worker on account of his preference not to be a union member, in order to be eligible to bid for government contracts. To avoid unemployment, a worker may then feel compelled to join the union. This goes against the fundamental right of a worker to decide on union membership.
  3. The Government recognises unionised companies in other ways. For instance, companies can tap on an extra 10 per cent in funding support through the Enterprise Development Grant, if they work with unions to train workers as the companies’ jobs transform. We also support unionised companies’ efforts to be more progressive employers, through engagement programmes organised by the tripartite partners.