Skip to main content

Speech at Singapore Organisation of Seamen and Seacare Co-operative Limited, Hong Bao Presentation cum Lunar New Year Celebrations

Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Manpower, Suntec Ball Room 1-3

Mr Mohamed Idris B Mohamed Ibrahim, President, SOS

Mr Kam Soon Huat, General Secretary, SOS

Mr Leow Ching Chuan, Executive Chairman, Seacare Co-operative Ltd

Members of the Singapore Organisation of Seamen and Seacare Co-operative,

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. It gives me great pleasure to join you at the Hong Bao presentation cum Lunar New Year Celebration organized by the Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) and the Seacare Co-operative (Seacare).

  2. Established in Oct 1971 to represent seamen in Singapore, the SOS has come a long way in representing the interests of workers in the maritime industry and enhancing their well-being. Although the number of Singaporean seafarers today is small, the employment terms and conditions for seamen have improved significantly. Through the years, the SOS has played a key role in promoting good industrial relations between members and their employers.
  3. The SOS is unique in many ways. It has more than 20,000 members from more than 20 countries. The SOS has participated actively in international conferences and meetings organized by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Through these activities, the SOS has built strong rapport with overseas fraternal seafarers' unions. This has helped improve the credibility and effectiveness of SOS in furthering the interests and well being of its members.

  4. 4 The SOS has contributed significantly to the community, looking after the overall well-being of its members and their dependents. Programmes such as the SOS Membership Benefit Scheme, the Seacare Medical Scheme, the Seafarers' Provident Fund Scheme, as well as the Seacare Sailors' Home Scheme have greatly benefited members. SOS established the Seacare Cooperative (Seacare) in 1994 to help Singapore seamen who are no longer able to sail at sea and their families. One key area of assistance is job facilitation efforts through Seacare Manpower Services and Seacare Environmental.
  5. In addition, the SOS has played a wider social role to help the less fortunate in the community at large through social outreach events such as Lunch with Senior Citizens and Visits to Welfare Homes. The SOS has also contributed generously through co-sponsorship with Seacare for events such as this Hong Bao Presentation and Lunar New Year Celebration. Here, I would like to warmly welcome SOS's guest from the Asian Women's Welfare Home, Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens, as well as Jamiyah Home for the Aged (Darul Takim) who are here today for the celebrations. This joint celebration has been a yearly tradition for SOS and Seacare for 17 years now.

    Challenges Ahead
  6. 2010 was a year of exceptionally strong growth for Singapore, with overall GDP growing by 14.7%. The maritime industry has also experienced a positive year in 2010. Singapore consolidated its global leadership position in terms of vessel arrival tonnage and bunker sales. Our container and cargo throughput has also improved, reversing the decline seen in 2009. The Singapore Registry of Ships has continued to rank among the top 10 worldwide in terms of numbers of ships as well as shipping tonnage. Looking ahead, the maritime industry’s growth is expected to stabilize in 2011. I strongly urge the SOS to work with industry to ride on the opportunities in the coming year.
  7. Like many countries around the world, we are facing an aging workforce. The new Retirement and Re-employment Act will allow older employees who are eligible to be re-employed when the new legislation comes into effect in Jan 2012. I hope companies will continue to tap on the expertise and experience of the older employees. Employees have a part to play too, by going for training and by being flexible when it comes to making the necessary adjustments for re-employment. SOS can play an important role in working closely with members and management partners to ensure a seamless transition to re-employment.
  8. Productivity will be another important area that will require the SOS and management partners to work closely together on. The Government's goal is to achieve productivity growth of 2-3% per annum over the next decade. This is a challenging target and a realistic one. With the cooperation and collaboration of management partners, unions and employees, I am confident that it can be achieved. SOS and Seacare have set up the Seacare Maritime Training Scheme to provide a comprehensive training programme for its members. This has greatly enhanced the employability of SOS Members. As they become more productive, both employers and workers will benefit, creating a win-win outcome.

  9. I would like to applaud SOS and Seacare for your outstanding contributions to members' well being as well as to the maritime industry. I am confident that your union will continue to play an effective role in furthering the interests of your members and their families as well as to improve the overall competitiveness of the maritime industry in Singapore.
  10. I would like to wish all of you a happy and productive Chinese New Year.
  11. Thank you.