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May Day Message 2013 by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower, 29 April 2013

Better Jobs For All

  1. Singapore's economy is experiencing a period of slower growth. This year, we expect GDP growth to remain within the range of 1-3%. While we strive to keep unemployment low for our workers amidst the economic restructuring, the priority for the tripartite partners remains the same - to create better jobs for all.
  2. How can we do this? By building better workplaces and helping our workers at all levels upgrade their skills, we will in turn help to develop a better and skilled workforce.

    Better Protection for All
  3. To build better workplaces, the tripartite partners have unanimously agreed there should be better protection for more workers, while ensuring flexibility to employers. Later this year, we will make changes to the Employment Act. When the changes come into effect next year, about 150,000 more workers will be eligible for overtime payment. About 300,000 more professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) will also be accorded protection against unfair dismissal and be eligible for sick leave benefits.
  4. To ensure fair workplaces that value every worker, the Ministry is studying the employment systems in other countries and will consult the tripartite partners, to ensure that our people are given fair consideration at the workplace. We aim to foster an environment to develop and nurture the talents and abilities of the local workforce to their fullest potential. This includes tapping on those who are economically inactive, and who are keen to rejoin the workforce.

    Better Progressive Workplaces for All
  5. Amidst a tight labour market, employers should foster inclusive and progressive workplaces while creating more job opportunities for back-to-work women and older workers. Employers must also play their part in supporting workers to enhance work-life harmony. Better workplace practices mean better productivity and happier workers. The recently-launched WorkPro initiative is one such programme to help companies do so.

    Better Skills and Wages for All
  6. We must continue to press on with efforts to transform towards a manpower-lean economy that is driven by productivity, innovation and skills, and that can sustain wage growth for our workers. I understand that NTUC has been working with companies through their Inclusive Growth Programme in various sectors. The programme has seen some impressive successes where businesses have seen productivity improvements and shared their gains with workers. This is heartening and I urge employers to work with the unions to press on with progressive wages for their workers.
  7. The Government will continue to work with companies and workers in the drive for productivity. Workers must take ownership of their upgrading by re-skilling and up-skilling. This year, we have enhanced the Workfare Training Support (WTS) scheme to help low-wage workers improve their skills and improve their wages. The Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) has also been enhanced with a raised income ceiling of $1,900 from $1,700 to cover more vulnerable workers and encourage them to continue working.
  8. We also want to help our PMEs improve their prospects and better their skills. To that end, we are introducing more upgrading pathways and continuing education and training programmes for PMEs to upgrade themselves.

    Tripartite Way to Better Jobs for All
  9. Singapore's strong tripartite partnership has seen us work together through many challenges in the past. Similarly, with the current economic restructuring, I am confident that this strong spirit of tripartism will stand us in good stead, as we work closely together to build a better Singapore, with better protection, better workplaces, a better skilled workforce and better jobs for all.
  10. I wish everyone a very Happy May Day.