For the first time in Singapore's history, a senior Trade Unionist will start work in the Employers Federation. The Vice President of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and General Secretary of the Singapore Teachers' Union, Mr Edwin Lye Teck Hee, would leave the labour movement and join the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).
The average Singaporean would probably see it as an ordinary switch in career. Casting your sight beyond Singapore, you would realise that it didn't make much headlines only because this is Singapore, where the Government, Employers and Unions enjoy a constructive relationship. This trust and collaborative relationship is otherwise called "Tripartism", and often cited as Singapore's National Treasure.
Indeed, if hashtags were a measure, Tripartism is so rare globally that in Instagram, you find mostly photos from Singapore with #Tripartism.
How else would cross-posting of public officers and trade unionists, and senior trade unionist receiving a SNEF award and becoming an Employer representative be imaginable? In most countries, getting trade unionists and employers to sit together would be already too much to hope for. International Labour Organization's Director-General Guy Ryder once said, "Singapore tripartism passes the essential test of good results."
It seems it really passed the test.
Photo with Edwin on his last day in STU office
It has been 10 months since I got seconded to the Singapore Teachers' Union. Learnt a lot from Edwin on proactive Industrial Relations and Union operations. Edwin has always been an open and patient Union Leader who takes the effort to explain the historical context and thinking behind any actions taken, and does so with great clarity.
Here's wishing Brother Edwin all the best on his new role at SNEF!