On the 24th of March 2015, the NTUC held a simple ceremony. Staff, union representatives and members of the public gathered for a show of solidarity and respect.
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s ties with the unionists and workers span back to the tumultuous and fractious days of the 1950s. He fought alongside the Postal and Telecommunications Uniformed Staff union for better pay and terms.
“Little did I know that I would be guiding union leaders in a strike that in two weeks changed the political climate. It put the colonial government on the defensive and encouraged workers militancy”, said Mr. Lee.
Long before he became Prime Minister in 1959, Comrade Lee Kuan Yew had championed the cause of workers. As advisor to many unions, he strove against tremendous odds to secure what benefits he could for them.
He is well remembered for his pledge, made in the run-up to the 1959 General Election, that a PAP government would be a pro-labour government.
This is the pledge that linked the PAP with the NTUC until today. And for as long as the PAP, and the Government is committed to the welfare of the worker, the NTUC would continue the symbiotic relationship.
The reason why we have such a successful, and functional tripartite environment is because there is industrial peace with justice, there is social mobility, and the fruit of labour is shared equitably. This is the society where Comrade Lee envisioned for Singapore and this is the vision realised through many a bitter industrial battle.
As the quick silence and observance came to a close, rain fell from the sky..as timely as timely can be.