Labour Management Essay

The role of the government on industrial relations is very important as it sets the legal framework that industrial relations operates in. Appropriate industrial relations legislation should recognize the requirements of both employers and employee’s. Both the employee and the employer want to profit from each other but are also reliant on each other. This means that the equal bargaining power of employers and workers must be recognized (Peetz, David. 2006).

Appropriate industrial relations laws should address any imbalance of power and give both groups an equal degree of control. Appropriate industrial relations should not only allow a mixture of both collective and individual bargaining but also facilitate employee participation in day to day workplace decisions. After all it’s the structure and framework of the employment relationship, which is governed by legislation that leads to good Industrial Relations.

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Tripartism is a key competitive advantage for Singapore, underpinning its economic competitiveness, harmonious labour-management relations and overall progress of the nation. Some of the key tripartite concerns include issues such as job re-creation, raising the effective retirement age, skills training and upgrading of the workforce, promotion of fair employment practices, and a flexible wage system, among other things.

The three main tripartite parterns are Ministry of Manpower, The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and The Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF)The following are some of the active tripartite committees (“TriComs”) and tripartite initiatives Singapore Tripartism Forum , National Wages Council, Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) , Tripartite Committee on Low-wage Workers and Inclusive Growth , Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers, Tripartite Committee on Work-Life Strategy , Tripartite Workgroup on Enhancing Employment Choices for Women and Tripartite Panel on Community Engagement at Workplaces. The Ministry of Manpower aspires to develop a globally competitive workforce and a great workplace, for a cohesive society and a secure economic future for all Singaporeans. The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is a national confederation of trade unions in the industrial, service and public sectors representing over 500,000 workers in Singapore.

NTUC comprises 62 affiliated unions, six affiliated taxi associations, 12 social enterprises and four related organisations. NTUC’s objectives are to help Singapore stay competitive and workers remain employable for life; enhance the social status and well-being of workers; and build a strong, responsible and caring labour movement. NTUC’s vision is to be an inclusive labour movement for all collars, all ages and all nationalities. The Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) was established in 1980. SNEF is a trade union of employers dedicated to preserving industrial harmony and helping employers achieve excellence in employment practices, thereby enhancing productivity, competitiveness as well as the quality of their employees’ work life.

With the support of over 2,000 corporate members, SNEF is an active player in facilitating the tripartite partnership among the Government, employers and unions. The Singapore Tripartism Forum (STF), jointly set up by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), was launched on the 24th of January 2007, by Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong. The forum is designed to broaden, deepen and strengthen the spirit of tripartism through a more structured framework. The forum provides a platform for the tripartite partners – the Government, unions and employers – to table concerns and work together more effectively to overcome the complex economic challenges faced by Singapore today.

The National Wages Council is a tripartite body comprising representatives from the three social partners – the employers, the trade unions and the Government. It was set up in 1972 to formulate wage guidelines in line with Singapore’s social development and long-term economic growth. The Council meets every year to deliberate on wage and wage-related matters, and issues guidelines on these matters every year based on tripartite consensus. The Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) was formed in May 2006 following the recommendation of the TriCom on Employability of Older Workers. It promotes employment practices that are fair and equitable to all workers.

The Alliance is co-chaired by Mr Heng Chee How, Deputy Secretary-General, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Mr Bob Tan, Vice President, Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF). The Alliance also includes members representing the employers, workers/unions, and the Government. TAFEP Centre opened its doors on 20 November 2007 to promote greater awareness of fair employment practices among employers and the general public. It provides a range of services, tools and resources, including training workshops, advisory services, and educational materials, to help organisations implement fair employment practices and to comply with employment legislation.

TAFEP also receives feedback from the public on their discrimination experiences and provides advice and assistance to those who have experienced discrimination at the workplace. The Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers was set up in March 2005 to recommend measures to enhance the employability of older workers and help them stay employed longer so as to raise the effective retirement age beyond 62. It also aims to positively shape the perceptions and mindsets of employees and the public towards the employment of older workers. The committee is chaired by Minister for Manpower Gan Kim Yong. The TriCom has issued its recommendations which the Government has accepted.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement in 2007 to introduce re-employment legislation by January 2012, a Tripartite Implementation Workgroup (“TIWG”), chaired by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), was set up under the TriCom to focus on implementation issues and help companies to adopt re-employment early. Employers can refer to the Tripartite Advisory on the Re-employment of Older Workers as a guide to re-employing their workers beyond 62. The Tripartite Committee for Low-wage Workers and Inclusive Growth (Tricom) was set up in October 2010 to work towards the desired goals of inclusive growth by enabling good employment conditions, income growth and job mobility for low-wage workers.

Previously known as the Tripartite Committee on CPF and Work-Related Benefits for Low-wage Workers, the Tricom aims to go beyond promoting basic work benefits for low-wage workers such as CPF and Workfare Income Supplement (WIS), to focus on enabling them to participate in inclusive growth. The Tricom’s terms of reference are recommend measures to improve employment conditions and standards of work among low-wage workers; identify opportunities for income growth and job mobility for low-wage workers and drive outreach and promotional activities on low-wage worker initiatives. The Tripartite Committee on Work-Life Strategy was set up in 2000 to drive the promotion of work-life harmony in Singapore. The TriCom’s terms of reference are to organise programmes and outreach at different levels of ational, sector, association, etc to promote and encourage organisations to adopt effective work-life strategies that can enhance their employees’ ability to effectively manage their work and family responsibilities; their employees’ engagement and productivity and enabling them to contribute better to business performance and their ability to attract and retain valued employees in the face of increasing global competition and a tight labour market. It is also to formulate strategies and measures to help organisations build capability in implementing work-life strategies and monitor and review the adoption of work-life strategies by organisations in Singapore with a view to improving work-life harmony at the workplace. The Tripartite Workgroup on Enhancing Employment Choices for Women was formed in July 2007. The formation of the Tripartite Workgroup was one of the recommendations in the final report of the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers, which was released in May 2007.

The Committee had recommended that NTUC’s “Women Back to Work” Committee be elevated to a Tripartite Workgroup, led by NTUC, with participation and support of employers and the Government. The Workgroup would consolidate the various efforts of the tripartite partners to facilitate and encourage women to return to the workforce. The terms of reference of the TriCom are to formulate and recommend measures to help women remain in the workforce and to facilitate non-working women enter or return to the workforce and to pilot good practices such as flexible and part-time work and other supportive arrangements with a view to enhancing employment choices for women. In November 2007, the Flexi-Works!

Scheme, a $3 million funding scheme, was launched to facilitate the recruitment of employees (aged 35 and above) on part-time or flexible work arrangements. The grant can be used for costs incurred for job redesign, consultancy, recruitment, training, absentee payroll and equipment. The Tripartite Panel on Community Engagement at Workplaces was set up in October 2006 to provide overall direction and guidance for the Community Engagement Programme in the Businesses and Unions cluster. It aims to build socially harmonious and secure workplaces through promoting understanding, respect and bonding between different communities, as well as strengthening preparedness and resilience of workplaces for situations that may affect harmonious working relationships.

The current system has not provided sufficient protection for the most vulnerable members of the labour market nor has it facilitated a co-operative approach between unions and employers to enhance national economic performance while providing fair and equitable distribution of gains (Lansbury et al. 2004). “A key policy challenge is how to meet the demands of increasing competitiveness while maintaining desirable social standards of living for all citizens. ”(Lansbury et al 2004: 143). I believe that appropriate industrial relations laws can lead to good industrial relations however forming these policies won’t be easy; the government needs to address the current issues and work together with workers, employers and unions to come to an informed and well balanced decision.

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