S'pore: Govt to amend trade unions act in knee jerk reaction against the Pilots Union

Posted by Sinapan Samydorai under Breaking News on 1 December 2003

It is a surprising knee jerk response to non-NTUC affiliated Air Line Pilots Association of Singapore (Alpa-S).

The intolerance of the government, is showing its short fuse, in the proposed amendment to the Trade Union Act.

The proposed amendment does away with the need to seek the approval of union members before the Executive Committee of the trade union signs the negotiated collective agreements.

The SIA pilots were unhappy with pay cuts, compulsory unpaid leave, and pilots being retrenched. The Government seems to have forgotten its own advise to employers to keep workers, retrain and redeploy workers, rather than to retrench them.

The workers do have rights to elect and/or change their own union leadership. If the elected unionist do not serve the need of the membership then the members have a democratic right to choose a new leadership. The union members key concern is job security, decent wage and fair working conditions.

The Pilots are not mere economic digits. They are human beings with dignity!

Sinapan Samydorai
Think Centre

30 November 2003

The straitsTimes interactive on Sunday: Govt to amend trade unions act

THE Government announced on Sunday that it will amend the Trade Unions Act in a bid to protect industrial harmony in Singapore, following recent developments in the Air Line Pilots Association of Singapore (Alpa-S).

A statement from the Prime Minister's Office said that the proposed amendment will allow executive committees of registered trade unions to negotiate and commit to collective agreements without approval from members.

Alpa-S is the only trade union in Singapore whose members have the right to approve agreements reached by its executive committee.

The move comes after repeated warnings from three Cabinet Minsters following the ouster of the Alpa-S 22-member exco last week, just five months after they were elected.

The leaders were criticised for giving in too easily to management on wage cuts and layoffs at the height of the Sars scourge.

The ouster was carried by a 55-45 majority, with 1,000 votes cast, and about 100 pilots attended the special meeting held last week.

'We cannot afford a continuation of these dysfunctional relations marked by confrontations and stand-offs,' the statement said. Another move announced was that two non-Singapore citizens have lost their right to sit on the Alpa-S executive committee.

The statement did not give any reason for the Manpower Ministry rescinding its approval, which non-Singaporeans must get before they can be elected as union leaders.

Sources and Relevant Links:

StraitsTimes Interactive Govt to amend trade unions act 30 November 2003

Straits Times: SIA pilots: Law to be tightened 1 Dec 2003 Alpa-S spokesman Captain P. James was surprised that the Act was being amended.
'This clause was actually a safeguard put in place after the industrial action in 1980 to ensure that excos cannot commence industrial action without consulting members or accept any packages that are detrimental to members.'

SgForum Should Government interfere in Union Member's Rights? 22 November 2003

Think Centre Industrial peace must be achieved with justice!

Think Centre Who is confrontational? 27 November 2003

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