The Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness (TCWF) will be spearheaded by the Minister for Manpower himself, alongside NTUC, SNEF, and other employers, unions, and government representatives.
In the latest parliamentary sitting (Monday, 27 July 2021), Singapore’s Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng addressed the floor regarding the strengthening of the Singaporean (working) core and ensuring workplace fairness.
“The government will be addressing these key issues in two ways - enabling Singaporeans to succeed as industries and jobs transform, and tackling workplace discrimination,” Minister Tan said in his speech.
As part of the latter prong, he announced the formation of the Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness, details of which are shared below.
Strengthening the Singaporean core
“How do we enable Singaporeans to seize new opportunities and succeed at the workplace?” Minister Tan shared.
He explained that the government will continue to help locals in mainly two ways:
- Accelerating technology adoption, and
- Equipping Singaporeans at various stages of their careers with skills for future jobs.
The Minister added that this will ensure businesses have a strong local talent pool to support their transformation and growth to compete globally.
Ensuring workplace fairness
Minister Tan proceeded: “As we press on with efforts to support the local workforce, I can understand the anxieties that some Singaporeans may feel in an open and competitive labour market.
“The government has been progressively stepping up our efforts to combat workplace discrimination. We will ensure that Singaporeans are considered fairly for employment opportunities.”
These efforts, he announced, will bear fruit in the formation of the Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness (TCWF). According to the Ministry of Manpower, TCWF’s task is to “review the framework for workplace fairness in Singapore.”
The committee will be co-chaired by the following:
- Minister for Manpower;
- Secretary-General, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC);
- President, Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), and
- Employers, the human resource community, unions, and senior government representatives.
This move, Minister Tan explained, is additional enforcement to the measures the Ministry has been using like the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP), and the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF)
“We have also penalised errant employers and stiffened penalties for all forms of workplace discrimination,” the Minister shared.
TCWF is, however, necessary as “we cannot expect laws alone to guarantee better employment outcomes,” Minister Tan explained.
“If not properly designed, the [aforementioned] legal framework could inadvertently deter employers from hiring the workers that we seek to protect.
“That is why I will be setting up a tripartite committee, comprising government, union, and employer representatives, to deliberate thoroughly whether legislation should be pursued, and decide on the approach that is in the best interests of workers and Singapore.”
Welcoming this move is NTUC Secretary-General (SG) Ng Chee Meng, who via his Facebook, especially noted the challenges faced by mature PMEs aged between 40 to 60.
He wrote: “The anxieties felt by our Singaporean workers towards an open and competitive labour market are real. Through my own interactions with them, I've heard their experiences of workplace discrimination, and this could be by nationality, age, gender, or other factors. They are merely asking for a level playing field and fair opportunities.
“For years, my colleague, Patrick Tay, also Assistant SG, NTUC has been raising PMEs' concerns in Parliament, and calling upon the government to step up policies and measures to better safeguard our Singaporean core.
“I'm glad that Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng has heard us, and will be working with NTUC and SNEF to examine how we can address concerns related to workplace discrimination.
“I hope that through this tripartite committee, we can provide better ways to protect Singaporean workers, and ensure that they can compete with our foreign talent, secure better wages, welfare and work prospects. Because every worker matters.”