Tripartite Guidelines

Tripartite guidelines and advisories are formulated by the tripartite partners – National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) – to provide frameworks, benchmarks and recommendations for employers to follow in response to changing trends in the economy and workforce or to crises that hit Singapore.

For example, tripartite guidelines and advisories have been issued for best employment practices like national wage guidelines, fair employment, flexible work arrangements, re-employment of older workers, best sourcing, managing workplace harassment, expanding scope of limited representation for executives, extending scope of union representation for executives, haze-related workplace measures and measures to tackle Influenza A (H1N1) and MERS-CoV. In times of crises, such as during the economic recession of 2008/9, the tripartite partners issued tripartite guidelines on managing excess manpower so that businesses could continue to operate while workers could continue to keep their jobs.

In order to better achieve solutions for industry-wide issues, various sectoral tripartite committees were set up by bringing together unions, management and the government agencies. To date, various notable tripartite committees have been set up. These include the National Wages Council, Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices and Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers, among others.

Tripartite Clusters

To date, there are 14 tripartite clusters consisting representatives from employers, unions and government agencies in 14 different industries or sectors. The primary purpose of these clusters is to look at how the Progressive Wage Model can be implemented in their industries or sectors; and setting targets for progressive wage increases specific to their industries, especially for the more vulnerable workers such as low-wage earners, women, and older workers. In addition, these tripartite clusters explore work areas that require strengthening so as to enhance productivity and competitiveness for their respective industries and work places.

Tripartite Advisory on Best Sourcing Practices

Best sourcing entails awarding service contracts for outsourced functions based on factors that go beyond just price. This is in contrast to cheap sourcing where contracts are awarded to service providers solely on the basis of the lowest price. When service buyers emphasise service quality and outcomes rather than headcount in their contract terms, service providers are encouraged to improve productivity in the delivery of their services, workers benefit through better employment terms and conditions, and service buyers and consumers also potentially stand to benefit from services that are of higher quality.

The Tripartite Advisory on Best Sourcing Practices aims to provide more guidance to service buyers on progressive remunerations for workers, outcome-based contracting and fair contracting practices.

Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners

In October 2012, the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC), a tripartite effort stemming from the Labour Movement’s Building and Facility Management Services (BFM) Cluster, which is made up of seven unions, released its recommendations for the cleaning industry in three sub-sectors, namely the office and commercial buildings, food and beverage (F&B) establishment, and conservancy sectors.

The recommendations aim to help cleaners earn progressively higher wages with, skills upgrading and structured career advancement, as well as productivity improvements in the industry through technology and process re-design. Following engagements with the industry's stakeholders, further refinements have been made to the TCC recommendations.

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Tripartite Cluster for Landscape Industry

The Tripartite Cluster for Landscape Industry (TCL) was formed in April 2014 to develop a Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the landscape industry that would provide a pathway for landscape workers to progress with training and improvements in productivity and standards.

Introducing the PWM in the landscape industry is a step forward in uplifting the image of the landscape industry and professionalising the industry. The PWM gives landscape workers a clearer pathway to career progress and will allow them to earn higher wages that will commensurate with improved training, better skill sets, higher standards and higher productivity.

The PWM also encourages landscape companies to compete based on productivity instead of price alone. As for service buyers, they can be assured of higher quality services. With all these steps in place, the landscape industry will be better placed to attract and retain quality manpower to meet its growing needs.

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Security Tripartite Cluster

The Security Tripartite Cluster (STC) was formed in September 2013 to address several industry challenges through the development of a Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the private security industry. The PWM would create a roadmap for raising basic wages, skills and productivity, and set out an approach for reducing the industry’s reliance on excessive overtime (OT) hours to meet manpower needs.

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Lift and Escalator Sectoral Tripartite Committee (L&E STC)

The L&E STC, comprising representatives from industry association, unions, key government agencies, lift service buyers and providers, was set up in January 2017 to look into initiatives to attract, develop and retain Singaporeans in the lift and escalator sector. The recommendations seek to provide progression in the four key areas of jobs, skills, remuneration and productivity:

Better Jobs: Provide better jobs to attract Singapore residents to join the industry

Higher Skills: Upskill workforce to deliver better quality maintenance services

Better Remuneration: Ensuring commensurate wages to enhance retention

Raising Productivity: Push for wider adoption of technology to reduce manpower reliance

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Tripartite Advisory on Provision of Rest Areas for Outsourced Workers

The Tripartite Advisory on Provision of Rest Areas for Outsourced Workers was released by NTUC, MOM and SNEF to provide recommendations to employers and building owners on the provision of proper and reasonable rest areas. 

The Advisory acknowledges the important roles that outsourced workers play in keeping our environment clean, green and safe, and sets out recommendations to ensure outsourced workers have access to proper rest areas that they deserve. Service buyers stand to benefit from well-rested workers who will be more productive; and better employee retention as workers feel their welfare is being taken care of. NTUC strongly encourages service buyers to adopt the Tripartite Advisory.

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Tripartite Advisory on Ensuring Sustainability of the Waste Management Sector in view of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant disruptions to the demand and supply of waste management services, and affected the livelihoods of waste management personnel. The tripartite partners have come together to provide recommendations on measures that service buyers and providers should adopt to ensure the sustainability of the waste management sector in view of COVID-19.
NTUC and the rest of the tripartite partners urge stakeholders to work together, to review waste management needs and explore voluntary renegotiation of contracts or payments for variations in waste management arrangements. Waste management personnel should be appropriately recognised and remunerated for any increased workload and risks they shoulder. This will help ensure the sustainability of the waste management sector and keep Singapore’s environment clean during and after this COVID-19 situation.
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Tripartite Advisory on Ensuring Sustainability of the Strata Management and Facility Management Sectors in view of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted managing agents’ (MAs) and facility management companies’ (FMCs) service delivery to management corporations (MCSTs) and building owners across Singapore. Service buyers, service providers, and workers have been adversely affected. MA and FM services generally require workers to be on-site. These service providers have been affected by the tightening of the number of workers able to do so. Therefore, MCSTs and building owners play a critical role in supporting operational changes that will enable MAs and FMCs to meet their expectations, while retaining their resident workers and continuing to develop their capabilities.
All stakeholders should share the responsibilities arising from changes to the MA and FM services required. Workers should be appropriately recognised and remunerated for any increased workload and risks they shoulder. This will ensure the sustainability of MA and FM operations and the service standards of MCSTs and building sites during this COVID-19 pandemic.
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