THE mission of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and its affiliated unions is to protect and advance the interests of the workers of Singapore (‘Explain role of NTUC in politics’ by Mr Ang Miah Boon; last Wednesday).

Having seen militant unions disrupt growth and destroy jobs in the 1950s and 1960s, NTUC believes that a constructive brand of trade unionism and tripartism remains the best way of serving our workers.

Since 1961, NTUC has worked closely with the People’s Action Party (PAP) Government to grow our economy and strengthen our society. Our low unemployment rate and steady increase in real wages have not happened by chance.

They are the direct result of this shared effort between NTUC and PAP to enable our people to have meaningful jobs and lead a purposeful life.

Labour MPs give workers a voice in Parliament and make NTUC a more effective labour movement. As labour leaders, they are responsible to the unions, members and workers at large. They express the concerns and aspirations of workers and speak up for balanced government policies that are both pro-business and pro-worker. They also work directly on measures to benefit workers, such as re-employment of older workers and back-to-work women, re-skilling of low-wage workers and upgrading of PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians).

As MPs, they are responsible to their voters and the public, and contribute actively to nation-building. Currently, three labour MPs lead the Government Parliamentary Committees for Manpower, Education, and Community Development, Youth and Sports, having been elected by their fellow PAP MPs to these posts.

How many labour MPs we have depends on the quality of NTUC candidates. Labour MPs undergo the same stringent selection process as other PAP candidates. As NTUC nurtures promising candidates for selection by PAP, we also recruit potential PAP candidates who can contribute to the labour movement. Such a two-way approach has served our workers and union members well.

On this 50th anniversary of NTUC, it is timely to recapitulate this symbiotic relationship between NTUC and PAP. Together, we are partners in nation-building.

John De Payva
National Trades Union Congress

Lim Swee Say

National Trades Union Congress

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