Future growth will not be at expense of workers: Lim Swee Say
By Tan Qiuyi
POSTED: 01 May 2013 11:16 PM
SINGAPORE: Labour chief Lim Swee Say said the national drive to raise productivity does not mean workers have to work harder and longer hours.
He said the effort is also about making jobs easier and smarter.
He asked: "The question is, how? How can we succeed? From the labour perspective there are three 'how's."
Known for snappy acronyms like "Cheaper, Better, Faster" (CBF), Mr Lim has coined a new one for how Singapore should hit its productivity targets.
Mr Lim said: "The first 'how' is to be CBF, the second 'how' is to make the job, make the life of the worker more ESS - easier, smarter and safer. In the context of Singapore, given our low unemployment, tight labour market, there's a third ‘how’. Beyond CBF, beyond ESS…that is to value every worker."
One group singled out for more support is the elderly.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called for a "practical approach" to allow as many as possible to work, for as long as possible. Unionists said most workers want to continue working past retirement, even into their 70s.
K Thanaletchimi, president of Healthcare Services Employees’ Union, said almost 100 per cent of those eligible for re-employment in the healthcare sector choose to take it up.
She said: "The incentives are there, bonuses are given to good performers, because it's performance-based, so there's no short change for re-employed workers. And they also want to lead a meaningful life, an active life, and also to cascade their knowledge competency down to the youngsters."
However, G Muthukumarasamy, general secretary at Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers, said: "Cost of living, household income - if their children (are) good, (and earn a) high salary, they won't work. If their children are not at that level, they need to work."
Kalshum Mohamed Ali, general secretary at Union of Security Employees, commented: "Out of ten, I believe seven are willing to work. The rest want to relax at home after they retire."
A higher salary remains a top concern for most workers, especially in low-wage sectors like security and cleaning.
Beyond that, unionists said increasing concerns of both rank-and-file workers and PMETs alike are better work life balance and more recognition for the work they do.