Excerpts & Transcript of Webchat with Manpower Minister and the Mayor of Southwest CDC

the following is the excerpt of the webchat between the Manpower Minister and the Mayor of SWCDC on 7 May 2009:


Ravi Philemon: basically a culture where older workers are appreciated has got to be created and policy creation is important for that

Ravi Philemon: basically, the older person can only work as a security guard, waitress, cook, cleaner,chambermaid...

Minister Gan Kim Yong: The Tripartite Upturn Strategy team (TRUST Teams) has just been set up last week. They are now reaching out to the companies to help them tap on the various schemes and try their best to save jobs. I am sure they will be effective as they are staffed by union leaders and employer representatives.
Ravi Philemon: Could you give more info on the Trust Team?
Sunshine to Minister Gan Kim Yong: Why don't we hear much about these schemes and new stuff like Trust Team?

Ravi Philemon: the basic help a retrenched person can get is unemployment insurance
Minister Gan Kim Yong: Unemployment insurance may not be the best solution.
Ravi Philemon: unemopemployment insurance provide the retrenched time to seek new opportunities and even to re-skill
Minister Gan Kim Yong: I think it is better to help them get a job so that they can move on.
Norah S: i dun think all retrenched ppl even know about unemployment insurance...
Ravi Philemon: maintain adequate level of consumption in society
Minister Gan Kim Yong: While they are unemployed, they can go to our training centres and receive training. Some will get training allowance during their training. The training will help them find jobs.
Ravi Philemon: what about in the meantime when they are without job
Minister Gan Kim Yong: While they are unemployed, they can go to our training centres and receive training. Some will get training allowance during their training. The training will help them find jobs.
Ravi Philemon: what about in the meantime when they are without job
Fishy: will there be a problem when demand exceed supply?
Ravi Philemon: How much can a training allowance do?
Fishy: too many ppl wantg to go for courses and end up in long Q
Minister Gan Kim Yong: While they are looking for job, they can continue to upgrade through SPUR. If they need financial help, CDCs, like Dr Khor’s Southwest CDC, will be happy to look into their situation on a case by case basis, to see how we can best help them.
blackburied: what about those who dun get trained, and uneducated and no skills
Dr Amy Khor: They are given allowance when they go for training which would help to cover some of their expenses. In addition, ithey could also turn to the CDC for some additional assistance if this is required to tide them over.
Sunshine to Minister Gan Kim Yong: Sometimes, it sounds easy to say get a job. But with every job opening, there are hundreds of candidates. Who will ultimately be chosen? the Young one right?
Ravi Philemon: case by case is not good enough...why should they turn to someone for handouts...
Fishy: some said that it is difficult to get assistance from CDC.
Ravi Philemon: even the government for that matter
Minister Gan Kim Yong: That's why it is important to help them gain access to training so that they can have the necessary skills.

Ravi Philemon: Well, I know people who called CDC for job placement and the CDC officer asked the person not to come because there were not enough jobs

Ravi Philemon: What is the stat for the male and female unemployed workers? Why is there no breakdown along these lines?

Ravi Philemon: Are woman and older workers more easily laid off in this downturn?
Dr Amy Khor: There are already guidelines issued on fair employment practices, discouraging companies to discriminate against workers be it gender or age.
Ravi Philemon: they key word there Dr. Khor is 'discouraging'.

Minister Gan Kim Yong: The downturn affects all sectors and all age groups. Those will skills are less vulnerable. That's why we should continue to encourage skills upgrading.
Ravi Philemon: I agree Mr. Gan but skills upgrading is not the ONLY remedy...

Minister Gan Kim Yong: I think it is more important to help companies save jobs and help workers stay on their jobs. That way, the unemployment rate will be lower than what it would have been.
Minister Gan Kim Yong: While we tackle the “now”, we must also keep our eyes on the future.
Ravi Philemon: I think it should be both ways Mr. Gan, help the workers as well
Minister Gan Kim Yong: Otherwise, even if we can address the short term problem of unemployment, we may compromise our future.
Ravi Philemon: how so? is it mere hypothesis Mr. Gan?
Minister Gan Kim Yong: Agree that we should help both companies and workers.

Dr Amy Khor: Yes, that is why I said that we will continue to help if they are unemployed due to the poor economic conditions. However, we do come across those who remain unemployed for long periods of time because they are not flexible with regards to the type of jobs they want or wage expectations etc.
Ravi Philemon: "those who remain unemplyed for long periods" are really the minority Dr. Khor. I thnk most do not want to remain unemployed and unproductive
Ravi Philemon: Our policies should not be created with 'fear' that they would be misused
Ravi Philemon: They should be created to benefit the majority
Dr Amy Khor: Yes, Ravi, you are right, indeed they are a minority and thankfully so. But there are some of these and we try in whatever ways we can to help them such as help them to change their views about certain jobs and certain industries.

Minister Gan Kim Yong: Also we must not forget another important factor - harmonious industrial relations.
Ravi Philemon: Mr. Gan, harmony can exist in dissent as well
Minister Gan Kim Yong: Many countries mark the May Day with strikes and demonstrations. We mark May Day with tripartite celebrations.
Ravi Philemon: sometimes I wonder if it is mere 'hype'
Minister Gan Kim Yong: Well, if we see the strikes around the world, we will believe this is not hype.
Minister Gan Kim Yong: Years ago, strikes were common. But we changed that.
Happy123: did we go too far, tho?
Ravi Philemon: we should allow more space for dissent and try to find harmony in dissent
wenxiu to Raymond Lo Wan Mou: hmm maybe cos the norm is not to have strike. i imagine if a good portion of workers does a strike, the govt cant really arrest everyone.
Minister Gan Kim Yong: Some asked the unions that question too.
Sunshine: but there's really nothin to strike about.
Minister Gan Kim Yong: The real test is: “are our workers better off standing in the line on strikes, or going for SPUR training?”
pinkdots: personally, i think strikes exist in other countries as a form of freedom of speech.
Chan Li Han: We need to stop strikes not by regulation, but be ensuring the conditions that create strikes do not exist. Keep workers happy by keeping their jobs relevant so we can pay them that premium, for example
Ravi Philemon: But our country was founded in the fiery protests of our early leaders including Mr. lee Kuan Yew...

Ravi Philemon: The Violent Singaporean protestor is but a 'myth'

The entire webchat: Transcript of Webchat with Mr. Gan Kim Yong & Dr. Amy Khor