NTUC Chief Lim Boon Heng has urged the management of companies undergoing restructuring to take union leaders into confidence, so that the legitimate concerns of workers can be addressed in good time.

Citing the restructuring of the Public Utilities Board as an example, he said the exercise was carried out smoothly because of the close cooperation between the management and the union.

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Speaking at the first triennial delegates conference of the Union of Power and Gas Employees (UPAGE), Mr Lim said that companies responded to challenges in various ways - some through restructuring to meet new market demands, and others through mergers.

For wokers, these changes can be unsettling, and restructuring sometimes leads to retrenchments.

But in the case of Singapore Power's restructuring, the NTUC Chief noted that the PUB management had taken the company's union leaders into confidence even before the news was made public; it showed that openess between management and union was the better policy.

"When management are open with the union leaders, the legitimate concerns of workers can be addressed, leading to a smooth transition," Mr Lim said.

"Unfortunately for us, there are many management that adopt a different approach, informing the union only at the last moment, giving union leaders little time to respond and no time to address workers concerns."

Mr Lim also announced that the union's present general secretary, Nithinandhan, would now become its executive secretary, so that he could represent workers from all unions formed under Singapore Power or its subsidiary companies.

"We made some changes to our constitution handing the powers to the executive secretary to deal with all collective agreements, and to negotiate on behalf of major grievances with management and be the main person corresponding with all employers and external agencies and work out policies for all branches on industrial relations," Mr Nithinandhan said.

He said the union's relations with the management had been excellent and plans were underway for joint committees on training and workplace environment to better look into the needs of workers.

(Source)

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/archive/1999/10/25/singaporenews11546.htm