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    Feb 28, 2014

    NTUC to firms: Make jobs safer, smarter

    TO TACKLE the current labour crunch, businesses will need to innovate more, spread productivity gains and take care of their workers, said National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Lim Swee Say yesterday.

    The labour chief acknowledged that Singapore is "not short of jobs", but has a "shortage of workers", and this poses a challenge to expanding the country's economy and upgrading its capabilities.

    Mr Lim - who was speaking at the topping-out ceremony of NTUC FairPrice's new distribution centre in Joo Koon - said that, besides striving for productivity, businesses must "bring the best out of every Singaporean worker" and make jobs safer and smarter.

    While he did not allude to it, Mr Lim's comments come on the heels of last week's Budget announcement that employers will have to raise their Central Provident Fund contribution by 1 percentage point.

    Though the Government will help companies with this raise, the business community has raised concerns that this would add to labour costs, putting them in an even tighter spot in the manpower crunch.

    Mr Lim gave the assurance that the labour movement will be "working very closely" with employers and government agencies to develop the economy and make the workplace "easier, safer and smarter" for workers.

    The Minister in the Prime Minister's Office used FairPrice as an example of how to be a "responsible" and "responsive" employer.

    The supermarket chain takes advantage of the Inclusive Growth Programme, which funds productivity improvements, to implement self-checkout counters in its stores.

    The $350 million distribution centre, which employs an automated system in its warehousing operations, is another of FairPrice's initiatives to "upgrade capabilities" and "enhance capacity", he noted.

    Yesterday, FairPrice and FairPrice Foundation also made a donation of $4.3 million to NTUC for initiatives to benefit low-income working families.