Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Club is introducing a membership scheme specially for workers of small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs), as part of the labour movement's drive to improve staff welfare at these companies.

The NTUC Club Corporate Membership Scheme will entitle employees to access to club facilities, participation in sports and recreational activities.

The corporate scheme is open to NTUC's 13,000 SME partners that together employ about 300,000 workers. Employers will pay the $120 annual membership fee for each worker at NTUC Club.

The scheme was announced at a dialogue involving top labour leaders on ways the labour movement can help SMEs retain talent and seek new business opportunities.

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NTUC assistant director-general Yeo Guat Kwang said a perennial problem SMEs face is their inability to match the staff benefits given by big companies. He requested SMEs to sign up for the new corporate membership as a way to provide staff welfare they do not have the resources for.

Labour chief Chan Chun Sing told reporters that it is important to take care of the needs of SMEs, as they form 99% of businesses in Singapore and employ 7 in 10 in the workforce.

NTUC also wants to help companies digitise and tap overseas markets. Citing Google as an example, Chan reports that the tech giant was keen to help 250 SMEs use technology to revamp their business models and attract international clients.

He also suggested that the labour movement can bring SMEs together to discuss solutions to the different problems they face. "Such platforms allow SMEs to understand that their challenges are not unique to themselves. Many of them share the same kind of challenges but they have different ways of overcoming them," he added.

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