During a keynote speech at the NTUC Delegates' Conference, PM Lee Hsien Loong (LHL) was quoted by local media to have urged for the strengthening of the relationship between the PAP and the NTUC, amidst the challenging global conditions.

LHL also promised that workers will continue to be at the core of socio-economic development here in Singapore.

The relationship between the NTUC and the PAP is a long-standing one. Historically, it allowed Singapore to navigate through tumultuous economic, social, and political conditions.

Yet this unique relationship should not escape scrutiny. It may have served Singapore's economy well in the past.

Can it continue to do so in the future where AI and automation are expected to transform industries, and more and more workers become part of the gig economy?

The main grouse against this special relationship between NTUC and PAP is the lack of independence of the NTUC. Just look at who the Secretary-General is.

Arguably, independent unions who place the interests of the workers at the core of their existence, would be better able to represent the workers. The interests of the workers are not subordinate to other interests or factors, including those of employers and big corporations. 

Furthermore, such specialised, independent unions are arguably more nimble and better able to react to changing conditions that may affect workers. 

With the PAP in power, it is unlikely to diminish its own position by disrupting this special relationship.

Who can step up to ensure independence of the unions?



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