What is the relevance of Labour Day today? The concept of labour is undergoing a radical shift. Industry 4.0 and rapid technological advances are overturning established industries and disrupting the workplace. The future is unfurling at breakneck speed.
It is critical that we support the workers of today and tomorrow as they navigate these winds of change. Our education system, job placement programs, training eco-system and labour market policies should be strong enablers of an adaptable, competitive and resilient workforce.
The roll-out of the 23 Industry Transformation Roadmaps (ITMs) has been a signature policy development of 2018. While innovation, capability building and partnerships figure prominently as objectives, the ITMs must also aggressively accommodate the training, placement and hiring of Singaporeans. With retraining and skills upgrading a national mantra since the late 1970s, the dominance of Singaporeans for the jobs of today and tomorrow must rank as an important collateral objective of the ITMs.
Yesterday’s issues however, remain. There are expectations – correctly so – on unions, parliamentarians and the Government to support and protect Singaporean workers.The problems of discrimination in the workforce continue to rear their ugly head. The announcement at the Committee of Supply debate this year of an increase in the number of “triple weak” companies – those that unfairly favour foreigners in their hiring practices – prejudice the Singapore worker. More significantly, such unfair hiring practices damage our national solidarity and weaken commitment to Singapore.
Labour Day in Singapore is not any public holiday. It is a moment of pause and reflection. The Workers’ Party wants to see the Singaporean worker at the centre of today’s and tomorrow’s economy and will pursue this agenda in Parliament.