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Opening Address by Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng at the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers’ Union 64th Anniversary Dinner

Minister for Manpower, Orchid Country Club

Brother Sim Teck Chua, President, SMMWU

Brother Andy Lim, Secretary-General, SMMWU

Sister Mary Liew, President, NTUC

Brother Ng Chee Meng, Secretary-General, NTUC

Brother Edwin Lye, Deputy Executive Director, SNEF

Minister Ong Ye Kung

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Brothers and Sisters,
Good evening. It is good to see everyone! I know that everyone is looking forward to the fun and games so I will keep my remarks brief.

2. Perhaps let me take some inspiration from SMMWU's logo to highlight what we must continue doing in the days ahead. 

3. First, as the largest union affiliated with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), SMMWU plays an important role in bringing workers along in Singapore’s progress. This is symbolised by the wheel in SMMWU’s logo. To this end, I thank everybody for your support in the smooth implementation of the Retail Progressive Wage Model. It has provided a clear career progression and training pathway for retail workers and supported sustainable wage increases.
4. Next, I know that the three interlinked rings are meant to symbolise workers' solidarity. That is undeniably important. But from another perspective, I am reminded of the importance of tripartism. Tripartism is Singapore's competitive advantage and positively impacts the lives of our workers. For instance, this year’s guidelines by the National Wages Council encourage employers to reward their workers with wage increases or variable payments that are fair and sustainable. We must continue to uphold the tripartite spirit.
5. The SMMWU logo also has a bold red background that represents equality. To me, it means that every worker, regardless of their background or role, should be treated with fairness and respect. Next year, we will enact the Workplace Fairness Legislation or WFL. I ask for your support in raising awareness of this milestone legislation. Together with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, the WFL will send a strong signal that there is no place for workplace discrimination in Singapore.

6. Finally, the yellow star stands out against the red background. It represents a clear vision and a bright future. We have set out how we will respect and reward every job in the Forward Singapore report. The Government is committed to supporting our workers.
  • We will empower Singaporeans to take charge of their career health.

  • We will invest in Singaporeans and nurture and develop those with the potential to shine as specialists and leaders in their respective fields.

  • We will further narrow wage disparities and uplift our lower-wage workers.

  • We will help the involuntarily unemployed to bounce back better from unemployment shocks.

  • We will enhance retirement measures to ensure seniors can retire with peace of mind.
But we will need the support of everyone, from employers to workers. SMMWU has over 100,000 members and a proven track record of advocating for workers’ rights and championing their welfare. We are counting on you to bring along your members and play a leading role in translating our plans and ideas into concrete action. 

7. In conclusion, let us be guided by the ideals represented in SMMWU logo and continue working hand in hand towards a Singapore where every worker can thrive. 

8. Tonight, we celebrate our past and reaffirm our commitment to a better future. Happy 64th anniversary to SMMWU! Cheers!