A trade union is an organized group of employees in a particular sector, whose aim is to negotiate with employers over pay, job security, working hours by using the collective power of the members. They are funded by subscriptions from union members, and often offer legal advice and strike pay during disputes when members refuse to work. In general, the union is there to represent the interests of its members, and may even engage in social and political activities where legislation affects their members.
During the Industrial Revolution period, workers were frequently exploited by their employers. Due to the lack of job security, long working hours and unsafe working conditions, workers formed unions to fight for their own working rights (Tan 1955).
The first trade union in Singapore was form in 1940 when the Trade Union Ordinance was enacted. After the Second World War, the union activities were mainly on political struggles for independence from the British colonial government (Tan, 2004).
The trade union movements are segregated into different unions. Examples of such unions in Singapore include National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Singapore Association of Trade Unions (SATU), Naval Base workers union and Singapore Harbour Staff Association.
In 1963, SATU was immobilized by the government on the ground that they were dominated by communists. With the legal machinery working overtime against SATU, seven SATU unions with over 50,000 members were deregistered and subsequently dissolved. Eventually the other unions slowly followed the same fate. At the same time with the success of People’s Action Party (PAP) and NTUC soon became the national trade union (Hatchard & Kessaris 2003...
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...rong partner in the economical progress of Singapore, strengthening the stability and flexibility of our economy. Unions must also be able to adapt to the knowledge economy and understand the needs of workers in this new economy. Unions must therefore work together with the government in order to achieve future success (Ministry of Trade and Industry, 2007).
Although union membership has been declining over the years, I believe that NTUC and trade unions have a promising future ahead if they have a better understanding of the economy and the needs of the workers. Furthermore, unions must not only continue to do what they have been doing over the years but use various innovative strategies and tactics to reach out to the new emerging generations.
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