What do Singaporeans REALLY think about unions and collective bargaining?

In a poll conducted by Milieu Insight, 500 respondents shared what they really think about unions, tripartism and collective bargaining.

Let’s dive right in!

#1 For unions, having a large membership base is important for workers to have a stronger collective voice

82% of respondents agreed that workers have a stronger voice after joining a union while 84% of all respondents agreed that larger trade unions have more impact in furthering members’ interests.

This means that respondents agreed that they would have a stronger collective voice as more members join the union to form a bigger union.

A simple illustration to show what this means:

The power of collective bargaining

The more members a union has, the more collective bargaining power it has when negotiating employment terms with companies. A stronger union will also be able to negotiate for better welfare at the workplace for its members.

#2 Singaporean PMEs should join a union to represent their workplace interests

The poll also found that over half of PME respondents (54%) agreed that Singaporean PMEs should join NTUC to represent their workplace interests.

Amongst the PME respondents polled, the top 3 areas that they believe NTUC has been championing for include:

This finding corresponds with what the PME Taskforce, led jointly by NTUC and SNEF, have been lobbying for.

Some areas that the PME Taskforce has been looking to improve include:

  • Ensuring that there is a transfer of skills between foreign PMEs to local PMEs
  • Ringfencing of HR personnel to locals, thus ensuring that there’s greater fairness during the employment process and selection of candidates

Labour MP Patrick Tay has also been lobbying in Parliament for mature PMEs.

In his Facebook post, he shared about some of the areas he had been championing for:

  • Require employers to state in writing their reasons for material changes to re-employment contracts and/or not re-employing older workers
  • Training and upgrading older workers
  • Re-examine and re-design jobs

#3 Tripartism is a more effective way to improve wages, welfare and work prospects compared to a confrontational approach

Tripartism is the term used to describe the collaboration among unions, employers and the Government. The tripartite partners are the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

92% of all respondents agreed that finding a win-win approach for both union members and companies is more sustainable, compared to confrontational or violent approaches. This means that most respondents agree that negotiating via the unions is better than violent approaches such as strikes or going to court. Oftentimes, strikes and court cases should be the last resort only if other peaceful methods had not worked.

The tripartism model also means that there is a good relationship between the unions, employers and Government, leading to a win-win situation.

Respondents polled cited these as the top 3 improvements and outcomes of tripartism:

With all the above in mind, it is indeed important for NTUC to continue keeping abreast of the labour market and stay relevant to employees’ needs. Even as NTUC celebrates crossing the 1 million mark for its membership, it is cognizant that it needs to attract more PMEs to join the union. NTUC hopes to continue championing and fight for the rights of PMEs and our local workforce.

“Retrenched at 58.”-  Musings of a Mature PME