Speech at Singapore Organisation of Seamen and Seacare Co-operative Ltd Lunar New Year Cocktail Reception
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower , The Westin Singapore (@ Asia Square Tower 2), Grand Ballroom
Mr Mohamed Idris Bin Mohamed Ibrahim, President of SOS
Mr Kam Soon Huat, General Secretary of SOS
Mr Leow Ching Chuan, Executive Chairman of Seacare Co-operative Ltd
Members of the Singapore Organisation of Seamen and Seacare Co-operative Limited,
Ladies and gentlemen
- A very good evening to all of you and a very Happy Year of the Horse! I am happy to be here at the SOS Seacare Lunar New Year Cocktail Celebration. Today is a good and auspicious gathering, where representatives from shipping companies, government agencies, NTUC-affiliated unions and maritime organisations and other partners come together to look back on the achievements of the past year, reaffirm friendships and ties, and look forward to the new year.
SOS & Seacare
- Since its registration as a trade union, SOS has been committed to improving the welfare and safety of seafarers, who play a vital role in the maritime sector of Singapore. SOS has a range of benefit schemes for more than 24,000 members and their dependants. For example, together with NTUC U Care Education Co-funding Scheme, SOS provides study grants, helping more than 100 members each year to further their children’s education from primary to university level. SOS members such as Mr Masrom Mohd Ersat, aged 62, have applied for training and upgrading under the Port Limit Steersman Course to improve his employability and ability to contribute at work. I would like to commend SOS for these efforts.
- Seacare, jointly founded by NTUC and SOS in 1994, has also served members and their families well over the years. As a union cooperative, Seacare owns a family of business enterprises under the Seacare Group of Companies, including the Seacare Hotel which opened last year. I understand this was a significant milestone in Seacare’s history, as the hotel gives priority booking to seafarers, and eligible seafarers enjoy free stay at the hotel under the Seacare Sailors’ Home Scheme. The Seacare Group of Companies also helps SOS reach out to its members outside Singapore through various Membership Benefit Schemes.
- Together with their management partners as well as government agencies such as the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and Ministry of Manpower, SOS and Seacare have contributed significantly to improve workers’ welfare and help maintain harmonious industrial relations in Singapore. We value the smooth working of this tripartite partnership.
New training collaboration with e2i
- The tripartite partners have also worked together to profile the good jobs in the maritime sector that more Singaporeans can do, such as bosun and shipboard cooks. I am heartened to hear of the continued focus that SOS and Seacare have placed on the training and retraining of seafarers through the Seacare Maritime Training Scheme. I understand there is a new programme - the result of an ongoing collaboration between SOS and Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), as well as management partners - to train locals to be able to work aboard ships as cooks. Successful trainees will be awarded a Certificate for Culinary Training that can be subsequently upgraded to a Diploma course. They would also be qualified to work, if they so desire, in the hospitality or F&B industries.
- The importance of such initiatives could not be overemphasised. Workforce training and skills upgrading are an important means through which we can ensure our workers, especially the locals, remain relevant and employable. With the strong support of our tripartite partners, we are confident that this training programme would provide a good opportunity for more Singaporeans to embark on a maritime career.
Manpower Initiatives in 2013/2014
- Early this year, Parliament passed the Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) Bill that will greatly strengthen protection of our seafarers, in terms of employment, health, and working and living conditions. The passing of this Bill means that Singapore has now implemented the International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC). Acclaimed as the international ‘Seafarers Bill of Rights’, the MLC sets out seafarers’ rights to decent work conditions and protects the more than 1.5 million seafarers who serve on the world’s fleets. Ship owners also benefit substantially from the MLC, with a clear and consistent set of standards with which they have to comply with.
- Lastly, I’d just like to thank all of you for all your good work in looking out for our seafarers and their families. Your work is important and it makes a difference.
- I wish all of you a happy and prosperous Year of the Horse!