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Call to honour pioneer generation of unionists

TOH YONG CHUAN on 01 May 2014

The Straits Times


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PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged Singaporeans to honour the pioneer generation of unionists by building upon their achievements.


In his May Day message yesterday, he paid tribute to the unionists who fought the communists and worked with the Government to improve labour relations through the turbulent early years of Singapore.


Their courage allowed a young nation to build its economy and deliver better lives for the people, he added, stressing the generation overcame “long odds”.


“Let us honour them by upholding their spirit, building on their achievements and creating an even better Singapore for our children,” he said.


To do so, everyone, from the Government to employers and workers, must play their part.


In his message, he spelt out how the Government is growing the economy and creating jobs.


The economy grew 4.1 per cent last year and is expected to grow between 2 per cent and 4 per cent this year, “which is typical of a maturing economy”, he said.


To create jobs for Singaporeans, the Government is giving generous incentives to help firms raise productivity and create opportunities for growth overseas. The projects abroad include those in


Malaysia, government-to-government projects in China and industrial parks in Vietnam.


The free trade agreements that Singapore inked with the European Union and partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership will also expand the export markets.


Training has also been given a boost, said Mr Lee, with two new Continuing Education and Training Centres in Jurong East and Paya Lebar.


But he reminded workers and bosses to chip in too. “Workers must make the effort to train and upgrade themselves,” he said, adding: “Employers must invest in workers, develop their skills and make full use of their talents.


“Only then will the Government’s programmes bear fruit,” he noted.


Besides economic programmes, the social safety net is also being strengthened to give Singaporeans more peace of mind, the Prime Minister pointed out. Examples include expanding the scope of the Community Health Assist Scheme, permanent GST vouchers to help with the cost of living, and education and pre-school subsidies for the lower-income.


“The Pioneer Generation Package will honour and help the seniors who started us on this nation-building journey,” he added.


The goal of these programmes, he said, is “to improve Singaporeans’ lives”.


The Prime Minister will officially open the new Devan Nair Institute of Employment and Employability and deliver his annual May Day speech to workers today.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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