The SDP recently met with Mr Phil Fishman, an official from the largest trade union in the United States the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO).
The SDP expressed its concerns about the continued exploitation of labour in Singapore and the worsening working conditions for Singaporean workers. It wanted to know whether this was going to be addressed in the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA) that is currently being negotiated.
The Singapore Democrats also explained that given the seriousness of the present recession and the absence of any social safety net, the plight of the retrenched and the unemployed in Singapore has worsened dramatically. Given the undemocratic nature of the political system here and the track record of the NTUC, the future of labour in Singapore is bleak. Even those currently employed, especially those in the lower-income group, are at the complete mercy of the Government and employers.
Mr Fishman, the Assistant Director of Asia (International Affairs Department) of the AFL-CIO, assured the SDP that the situation in Singapore has not been forgotten by the American labour organization and members of Congress concerned with workers welfare.
He said that political and labour leaders in the United States took very seriously the position adopted by the United States and Jordan when the two countries signed a free trade agreement a few years ago. Among other things, the agreement recognizes the rights of workers to freedoms of speech and assembly. He added that there is a strong desire for the language used in the US-Jordan FTA to be retained and reflected in future free trade agreements that the United States signs with other countries.
The Singapore Democrats will continue to monitor developments in the USSFTA negotiations. The FTA is not expected to be signed by the end of this year given the Congressional elections in November. Singaporeans will be kept updated on this website.