LABOUR leaders Mary Liew and Chan Chun Sing have called on the labour movement to keep reinventing itself to stay relevant and make a real difference to workers' lives in a joint May Day Message released on Thursday.
"While short-term cyclical factors have played a key part, our bigger challenge is in tackling the longer term structural changes in our economy," said Ms Liew, president of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and Mr Chan, secretary-general.
"Our business environment, employment landscape and workers' demographics have changed significantly over the years," they said. "Businesses and products face shorter product life cycles and ever faster technological changes. Our workers' profiles, aspirations and expectations are more diverse and changing rapidly."
While workers' interests remain at the heart of everything the NTUC does, Ms Liew and Mr Chan noted that different workers have different interests and needs. "Hence, our services for them must be similarly diverse."
They said that the definitions of how the labour movement care for, be fair to and grow with its workers must evolve and expand in order to stay relevant.
They said that NTUC would continue to represent and protect rank and file workers, but it must also broaden its services to include professional development, training, placement and networking.
"By doing these, we are taking care of our workers, not just for today but also for a better tomorrow."
To prepare workers for future jobs, Ms Liew and Mr Chan said that NTUC "must expand our career guidance and placement services upstream for the young, midstream to help those who make mid-career switches and downstream to prepare our mature workers for a longer career lifespan".
They said that NTUC must work with more partners to widen training options for workers to maintain and improve their market currency.
NTUC will continue to provide and enhance a holistic suite of products and services to meet the lifecycle needs of Singaporeans through NTUC Social Enterprises.
"From young children to seniors, our social enterprises aim to provide affordable and accessible services for all; provide support and assurance when and where they need it; enable healthier lives and be agents of change for those with under-served needs," they said.
NTUC would also build a strong network of unions, associates and partners, they pledged.
The labour movement already has 60 unions and a national taxi association, with a total of 900,000 union members, and 31 U Associate partners - professional bodies representing over 150,000 working people from different professions.
"Our associates and partners find value in leveraging our network - interacting with fellow associates and unions, cross-pollinating ideas, sharing best practices and more," Ms Liew and Mr Chan said. "Our expanding ecosystem of unions, associates and partners will help us create greater value for our members."