Discuss about the Employment Relations in Asia for Employers and the Employees.
Trade unions are formed to develop and maintain the relationship between the employers and the employees. The purpose of trade unions is to maintain a bona fide relationship between the employers and employees and to work for the improvement of social status, condition of work and economical status of the employees. Trade unions also thrive to boost the efficiency of productivity for benefit to economy, employees and employers. In Singapore, the unions are regulated by a few specific set of legislations like Trade Unions Act, Trade Dispute Act and Singapore Labor Foundation Act. As the economy is growing and competition among markets is becoming extensive the importance of trade unions is degrading gradually. This degradation is value is not only taking place in the other developed countries but also in Singapore (Warner, 2014). As the economy in Singapore is developing, the role of the unions in Singapore is also changing.
In this essay, we are going to discuss about the relationship between the employers and the employees and the role of trade unions in respect of developing and maintain it. We are also going to discuss about the responsibilities of trade unions in Singapore and whether they are fulfilling them or not. The change in the role of trade unions because of the developing economy and the loss of membership in trade unions during the recent times are also discussed in the essay.
As the economy is developing the role and responsibilities of the labor unions in Singapore is are also changing. Before the year, 1960 the main role of the unions in Singapore was to make sure that the employees are getting fair wages are proper measures for the development of their life style are being taken (Räthzel & Uzzell, 2012). Since the code of practice for productivity has been enforced the role and responsibilities of the trade unions have also increased.
The classification of employment relations has been done into two aspects the first is the pluralist aspect and the other is the unitarist aspect. The pluralist believes that there is a natural potential of conflict in the relationship between employers and employees (Ackers, 2014). All the employees have different interest and aspirations where as the power is not in one had it is diffused. The relationship between the employers and employees is unrestricted and cannot be determined. As the interest of the employees and the employers are varied in the same work place, conflict between them is unavoidable (Kelly, 2012). According to this aspect, the government is responsible to take care of these conflicts impartially and the management has the responsibility to limit these disputes within a particular boundary. Whereas the unitarist aspect of the employment relation have a different view to it. They believe that the relationship between employee and employers is mostly pleasant and there are only occasional and temporary disputes which arise in this relationship. Unlike the pluralist, the unitarism believes that there is only one power, which is legitimate. According to unitarist then role of the management is to provide leadership and the obligation of employees is to be loyal and faithful to their organizations. The disputes are not natural they are the effect of miscommunications and dissenters.
The rapidly developing market of Singapore is now governed by a concept of a triple relationship between the government, the union and the employers know as the tripartism philosophy. This concept promotes the development of the nation and economy and develops, protect and work for the betterment of employees in Singapore. This movement thrives to improve the industrial conditions for investors and eventually increase employment. It also strives to improve the skills of the employees through education and providing them a favorable work environment so that they can earn a significant increase in their earnings. The aim of this movement is also to promote membership in the unions and to ensure that the employees lead a standard life in Singapore (CHUAN, 2016)
The role of labor movements in Singapore have been evolving since 1960. The participation of the labor unions in the development of short and long term strategies relating to the economy of Singapore and programs relating to employees have significantly increased (Kemp, Van Long & Shimomura, 2014). Their participation in the execution of these strategies for common gains have also increased. Labor unions have also increased participations in social movements which thrive for the improvement of the community and a better standard of living for the employees.
The organizations involved in the structure of tripartism in Singapore national trade union congress, Singapore national employer’s federations and the ministry of labor. The prevention of nasty disagreements between employees and the employers was the main reason for the implementation of tripartism (HOONG, 2016).
The national trade union congress (NTUC) is the main trade union in Singapore. It works together along with the government and the employers to build a better economy for the nation. During the time of national crisis, NTUC had given support to the decision of cutting CPF, which largely affected the lifestyle of its members. The also took the initiative to let its members know about the reason such a decision was taken and how it was important to them with respect of the future.
One of the most important employment relation bodies in Singapore is the national wages council. This organization sets the national policies in relation to wages with the help of the unions government and employers association. The main purpose of this organization is to set rules and regulations for wages and to advice the government on the development of wages and incentives for the employees (Lim, 2013).
This triple alliance system is working very smoothly for Singapore. The unions in Singapore have not witnessed a major decline in union membership like the other developed countries. Rather the decline in the membership in unions of Singapore has been steady (Sheldon, 2015). This gradual decline in the memberships in unions has been due to the shifting of labor from industries to services. the employment percentage in services have increased from 56.8% in 1980 to 68% in 1997 and declined from 41% to 32% during the same years in industries. The decline has been a little sharper in the next two decades (Ground et al., 2016).
In the recent times unlike the other developing countries, the membership in the unions of Singapore is increasing at a faster rate according to the National Trade Union Congress. The percentage of union members has grown from 27% in 2013 to 32 % in 2016. This increase in the membership is a different as compared to the years 2005-2009 where the increase was only 1%. According to NTUC, more and more companies are now joining the labor union movements. There has also been a stable increase in the membership of professionals, management employees and members who are executive in the labor movements. The labor movement continues to work for the needs of its members and for the betterment of their standard of living. The collaboration between the government the employers and the labor movements is working efficiently toward economic as well as workers developments.
Tripartism is facing a few challenges in Singapore. The kind of economy in Singapore is open and as a result, it will be difficult for unions to maintain the memberships of the employees as all over the world membership in unions is declining. The growth of economic instability, income stagnation and increasing wage inequality are discouraging the foundation of the central tripartite partnership. With the demand of skilled managers and professionals in Singapore the percentage of the labors in the country is decreasing as a result, union membership is also decreasing, as its focus was labor market. The employees are also opting to solve their issues with the employers through different advocacy and social media platforms (Beharrell & Philo, 2016). The growth of labor movements can also lead to is decline as there is a risk of their being complacent and lose control over its members.
Tripartism has supported the economic growth and social unity and competitive improvement since many years. It success is based on the very delicate mutual interest between its three components and working together towards a common goal.
Unions have a major role to play in the development and growth of the economy of Singapore. Unions in Singapore are working towards the betterment of the living standard for its members as Singapore is developing. The National Trade Unions Congress is working along with the government to providing facilities like recreation, development training, increasing the age limit of retirement, developing ethical employment facilities and having a wage system, which is flexible (Rodan, 2016).
The relationship between the unions, employers and the government of Singapore has developed into a strong bond for each other (Quah , 2013). If they work together as they have been doing then they will be able to overcome the challenges arising out of the ever-growing economy. The membership in the unions can be maintained simply by not being complacent and providing better facilities to the members.
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