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Closing Remarks at Tripartite Collective Launch Event

Ms Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State for Manpower, Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay

1. Tripartite leaders;                                                                    
Advisors for the Tripartite Collective; Friends, brothers and sisters.

2. As I was listening intently to the presentation and the two panel discussions, I felt very humbled by the fact that so much has been done over the years by our pioneers and tripartite partners. In a way, the Tripartite Collective is a stock take of the progress that we have made together.
3. Up till now, when people ask me what is tripartism, my reply will usually be that it is about “3Ps” – the Government, NTUC and SNEF. After listening to the wisdom of the members here today, I have a different take of what tripartism means. It is still “3Ps”, and now, they mean pro-business, pro-worker, and pro-future. So, thank you very much for sharing these insights with me. 

4. Congratulations to the Tripartite Alliance Limited on the successful launch of the Tripartite Collective! I would like to thank our partners, Temasek Foundation and Stewardship Asia Centre, for their support in shaping and also strengthening tripartism in Singapore. 

5. In his presentation, Mr Rajeev spoke about an inclusive prosperity approach, which includes taking a long-term as well as an interdependence view and pursuing consensus-building amongst stakeholders to balance trade-offs. 

6. In the two dialogues, the panelists spoke about their experiences dealing with different crises in different generations. They also provided their take on the future of work landscape and how tripartism could help workers and employers better prepare themselves for the challenges and opportunities ahead. 

7. The discussions were insightful for me, and I hope for you as well. I am also reminded that Singapore has through the years, built up strong fundamentals that we need to preserve in order to sustain the well-being of Singaporeans and the competitiveness of our economy.  A few important points came through – the fundamental principles of fair play and fair share. These are evergreen universal principles that we must continue to uphold in whatever we do. The win-win-win mindset and what it takes for us to scale forward together collectively is also an important lesson for us. 

8. At the May Day Rally last Sunday, Prime Minister Lee reminded us that tripartism is the uniquely Singapore way of conducting labour relations. The government, employers and unions are close partners working for a common cause, coming up with win-win solutions across many issues.  

9. Through tripartism, we have managed to make progress in wages, well-being and work prospects for our workers. The Progressive Wage Model for lower-wage workers, extension of retirement and re-employment age, and COMPASS framework for Employment Passes are major developments that have been made possible because of the strong tripartite partnership and trust forged over time.   

10. During the COVID-19 pandemic, tripartism held us together. To curb transmission and protect public health, many disruptive measures had been put in place, such as Stay Home Notice requirements, regular testing, circuit breaker and group size restrictions. 

11. The tripartite partners came together to help affected workers such as through matching the demand and supply for excess workers, and developing guidance for workers and employers each time a new health measure was implemented. Many of you would have seen the numerous advisories and FAQs that are published on our websites, providing guidance on salary, leave and SHN cost-sharing arrangements. What you did not see are the tens and hundreds of versions of those advisories and FAQs that were negotiated and scrubbed many times over, before publication. 

12. For this, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to NTUC, SNEF, the unions, employer associations and the MOM team for working together tirelessly in reaching out to the ground and rallying their constituents to support the policies. And also not forgetting the many workers and employers who recognised the common goal, made sacrifices and worked together to ride out the pandemic wave. 

13. COVID-19 has shown that we need to be constantly on our feet and be adaptable. 

14. Singapore will continue to be tested in years to come. The worst of COVID-19 may seem to be over but there are challenges ahead – rising prices, disruptions to the global supply chain, and possible new COVID-19 variants. The only way we can overcome such difficulties is to stand united and to move together. To this end, tripartism is a key enabler – by creating a shared understanding and mobilising everyone towards a shared purpose through dialogue and consensus-building. 

15. When I was preparing for today’s event, this Chinese phrase came to my mind – “同舟共济”. What it means that we are in same boat and riding the same wave together across the river. I am heartened that in today’s dialogue, there were several occasions when the panelists brought up the analogy of a boat. There is shared purpose, shared mission, shared values, and all of us moving towards a common direction. I was also taken by NTUC Secretary-General’s point about how we must modernise the boat and put in motors. Indeed, our boat going ahead will not just have to be motorised and automated. We also have to recognise the people who are on-board the boat and the diversity of their profiles. We might see seniors, more women and persons with disabilities on the same boat. But we must continue to press on and move fast against currents. So “同舟共济” to me is a very apt description of what tripartism is about and what we must continue to uphold.  

16. I am confident that the tripartite family and wider network of community partners will work hand in hand to help us scale greater heights. I hope that all of us here today and your networks will continue to support the Tripartite Collective programmes and share your views on how to improve them to strengthen tripartism in Singapore

17. Thank you.