Don't let tripartism model fall apart (The Straits Times)

THE tripartism model has proven to be a key competitive advantage for Singapore (“Unions, bosses, Govt ‘are equal partners'”; last Saturday).

Such a unique partnership helps to promote our economic competitiveness, harmonious labour-management relations and overall progress of our nation.

It is, thus, heartening that Singaporeans celebrated May Day with much fun and merriment, unlike in many countries where protests and demonstrations were the order of the day (“May Day fun and revelry for 14,000 at Istana open house” and “Arrests in Malaysia and clashes elsewhere”; both published last Saturday).

As a young student in the 1950s, I experienced hardships and inconvenience caused by strikes that would occasionally escalate into violent and bloody riots – as in the case of the Hock Lee bus riots.

I had to skip school because public transport was disrupted, and there was such a feeling of tension and fear in the air. Vehicles were set ablaze, and public property, like street lamps and traffic lights, were damaged.

It did not help that industrial relations were confrontational in those days and, more often than not, workers would indulge in work-to-rule tactics, which, in turn, slowed down productivity.

Alas, such industrial action was not conducive to good labour-management relations, and the sad state of affairs resulted in many job losses, thereby causing very high unemployment.

It is imperative that we not take for granted the industrial peace and harmony that we have enjoyed for the past five decades; instead, we must strengthen this strong tripartite relationship.

With a deep sense of shared responsibility, we are prepared for and capable of overcoming every eventuality.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng