May Day 2021: 'Employers must continue to stay vigilant'

Health and safety should remain a top business priority

May Day 2021: 'Employers must continue to stay vigilant'

As more workplaces in Singapore resume operations, one Singapore leader urged employers to keep workplace health and safety a top priority in this year’s May Day message. Employers should keep the momentum going following efforts through the pandemic, including new guidelines and standards on managing well-being.

“As more businesses resume operations and increase work activities, employers must continue to stay vigilant and keep workplace safety and health as one of their priorities,” said Dr Robert Yap, president of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

“In particular, the spike in workplace incidents earlier this year is a stark reminder of the need for employers to focus on workplace safety and health as an integral part of the safe reopening of the economy.”

READ MORE: This should be top priority in any return-to-work strategy

He also highlighted COVID’s massive impact on accelerating business transformation in the past year. “The onset of the pandemic had accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by employers, which would otherwise have taken years instead of months,” he said.

To further build a more agile and resilient organisation, he suggested that employers worked on identifying new skills and capabilities crucial for future jobs and proactively invest in training. It’s also best to engage with employees and unions to prepare for the incoming changes.

He also hopes to sustain the country’s efforts to uplift lower-wage workers and enable a more progressive and inclusive work environment for all. “The pandemic highlighted the important roles that these workers play and many of them continued to work at the front lines during the pandemic to provide essential services for all of us,” he said.

“Therefore, it is important to ensure that lower-wage workers can also benefit from economic recovery and growth through sustainable wage increase and better working conditions.”

READ MORE: Labour unions stop ‘unfair’ retrenchment exercise

The importance of unions

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo also released a May Day message that highlighted how employee unions helped cushion the impact of the pandemic. Union played a crucial role in helping both employers and employees “tide over enormous challenges”.

“As a key member of the National Wages Council, the NTUC called on employers and workers to rally together to sustain businesses and save jobs,” Teo said. “Where employers have exhausted ways of cutting business costs in other areas, the unions worked with employers on necessary measures to manage excess manpower, including wage cuts necessary to avoid retrenchments. Employers too helped to preserve jobs and maintain a strong Singaporean Core even if they had to restructure.”

She shared that the government is always seeking ways to align interests between unions and employers, while also identifying opportunities to enable everyone to emerge stronger from the crisis.

“Tougher times inevitably test our ability to be pro-worker and pro-business at the same time, and yet, it is crucial that we preserve the trust that was carefully nurtured over decades,” she said.

Happy May Day everyone!

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