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NTUC co-ops to team up to provide more and better goods and services(Amended)

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Minister Chan Chun Sing (centre), accompanied by labour chief Lim Swee Say and NTUC president Diana Chia, greeting union leaders at NTUC Centre on 23 Jan 2015.

Singapore

SOCIAL enterprises under the labour movement's umbrella will come together in the next four years to offer workers more and better products and services at affordable prices.

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) boss Chan Chun Sing said on Wednesday that the integrated approach is one way in which the labour movement will provide more care to workers.

This is one of three goals the ongoing NTUC National Delegates' Conference has adopted, the other two being to lean on employers to treat workers fairly and to develop workers' careers.

The three-day Delegates' Conference had kicked off on Tuesday; on Wednesday, some 800 delegates thrashed out the details of the three goals, which they named "Labour Movement 2019".

Briefing reporters on the details, Mr Chan said not only will NTUC's social enterprises such as NTUC FairPrice supermarkets, NTUC Health Co-operative and NTUC Foodfare Co-operative join to cut waste and create more synergy, they will also keep up - if not stay ahead of - the evolving needs of Singaporeans.

This is especially in food and care for the elderly and the sick.

Showing more care also entails the labour movement continuing to develop the progressive wage model for every sector in the economy, including drawing up a skills ladder for engineers and other professionals, managers and executives, said the NTUC chief.

It will mean creating a "positive and safe environment" for workers and giving extra help to the low-skilled, to women, to mature workers and to migrants.

To ensure workers are treated fairly, Mr Chan said NTUC will continue working with the government and employers to beef up the labour laws and collective bargaining to protect workers' rights.

The labour movement will also develop mechanisms to protect freelancers and contract workers.

NTUC will seek to strengthen the Singapore core - not just by growing their numbers but also equipping homegrown workers with the right skill sets.

On growing the careers of workers, Mr Chan said the labour movement will expand its network and reach out to its members as well as to professionals, managers and executives and those working in small and medium-sized enterprises.

NTUC will also continue grooming union leaders, mindful that in the new work environment, many among them will change jobs more often than before, said Mr Chan.

In grooming these leaders, greater stress will be put on stewardship - both in financial management and governance, he added.

The labour movement will also work with the Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Education to provide workers with skills for the jobs ahead.

The NTUC National Delegates' Conference ends on Thursday, with the election of new leaders for the labour movement.

Amendment note: This article has been amended to show the correct number of delegates.