Industrial Relations In Singapore: History, Current Development And Future Challenges

2223 words - 9 pages

I. Introduction
Industrial relations always play an important role in economic development of every country in the world. Singapore’s labor industrial relations have become a solid foundation for the dramatic improvement of Singapore’s economy for the last 50 years. However, just because it was very successful in the past does not necessarily mean that it will continuously bring similar outcomes in the future. The rapid transformation of the world will provide new challenges and shape a different set of environment. The ability to adapt to the new challenges and capture new opportunities will be crucial for the survival of the individual as well as organizations and nations.
In this regard, ...view middle of the document...

In August 1965, Singapore was separated from Malaysia. Singapore faced another great challenge when British decided to pull out from its military presence in Singapore in 1967. The British withdrawal means that there were 25,000 people who lost their jobs and 12.7% of Singapore GNP was suddenly disappeared. This difficult condition strengthened the government’s commitment to build supportive environment for investors by reducing industrial disputes. In 1968, the government introduced the employment act and amended the industrial relations act. While the employment act had a main objective to build a positive industrial climate, the amended put more emphasize on empowering employer to manage their employee.
By the 1970s, Singapore faced the labor shortages. The government decided to increase the labor supply by allowing foreign workers to enter the country as well as encouraging female workers to participate in industrial growth. In 1972, the government set up the National Wages Council (NWC) as a national body that regulates wages in Singapore..
After the 1985 recession, the NWC changed to qualitative guidelines from quantitative one, which allows greater flexibility in wage negotiations as well as to accelerate wage reform. This upgraded system was under serious test during the Asian Financial crisis in 1998, after the 9/11 attack, Iraq wars and during the SARS outbreak in 2003. For example, there was a reduction of the Civil Services wages in 1998 and 1999. However, the government restored the civil service’s wages after the rebound of Singapore’s economy in 2000. On 19 April 2004, the Government was issued the Tripartite Code on Industrial Practice.
III. Trade Union in Singapore
The first trade union in Singapore was formed in 1940, followed by other unions. After that, the unions were inactive during the war period (1942-1945). The next important milestone was the formation of The National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) in 1961, followed by the collapse of pro-left the Singapore Association of Trade Unions (SATU) in 1963.
The historic Labor Movement Modernization Seminar was held in 1969. The important results from this seminar was the development of a new strategy in NTUC to set up various ventures, such as Fair Price supermarket, COMFORT taxi, Book’s Fairdale, Denticare service and INCOME insurance.
In 1990, the government set up the Singapore Institute of Labor Studies (SILS), which now becoming the Ong Teng Cheong Institute of Labor Studies (OTC Institute). The institute is an established center for labor education and training in Singapore.
Nowadays, the NTUC covers a network of 60 trade unions, one taxi association, 14 social enterprises, with a total membership of over 770,000 workers.
IV. Analysis of the Industrial Relations in Singapore
The characteristic of Singapore’s system of industrial relations is very unique. It has a distinctive feature where the major political party (PAP) and the labor movement have a strong...

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