Informal lunch with UWPI advisor Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

EXCO councillors of UWPI gathered early at the Park Royal Hotel, Kitchener Road on 25th  February 2011  in anticipation of engaging our advisor, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan in dialogue. With the recently announced Budget 2011 as a backdrop, it was expected to be an informal lunch but with lively discussions and sharing from all. The EXCO and Dr Vivian spent over two hours talking and laughing but also engaging in serious dialogue to clarify issues.


To encourage better sharing and discussions, Dr Vivian agreed to move around a simple four table arrangement and talk to the councillors in small groups. Over a buffet meal that included many local and international favourites, the EXCO and Dr Vivian discussed union bread and butter issues and policies at the national level.


General Secretary Karthikeyan and President Benedict Chan shared the direction of UWPI for the future, in terms of alignment with NTUC policies such as variable bonus implementation, the Flow in, Flow up and Flow on concept and reemployment practices. IR and labour management relationship was also shared and Dr Vivian was very happy to note that with our 50th Anniversary book, UWPI have come a long way.


Councillors took the opportunity to share challenges and question Dr Vivian on national policies. Muhd Aswadi wanted to clarify the direction and commitment of the government in increasing the birth rate of Singaporeans since it was noted that no increase or new initiatives was introduced in Budget 2011. Dr Vivian as Minister of Community, Youth and Sports explained about budget priority and also shared statistics about married couples in Singapore having on average two babies but as a whole, Singapore birth rate is only 1.16 was due to the number of unmarried Singaporeans.


Teo Chong Beng shared the challenges in seeing management moving towards replacing manpower with contract workers and eventually foreign talent in order to manage costs. While advisor did not have a clear solution to this problem, he did note that the government closely monitors the foreign worker issue and the recent increase in levy was to send a clear message to business to upskill and upgrade worker and productivity.


In two short hours, many questions, personal stories and anecdotes were shared. This lunch allowed Dr Vivian to catch up with the senior leaders and at the same time speak with the newer ones to get a feel of the ground in UWPI. The EXCO looks forward to the next event with our advisor.