Govt attack on pilots’ union disgraceful

November 26, 2003
Singapore Democrats

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The latest salvo fired by the Government at the Airlines Pilots’ Association of Singapore is nothing short of disgraceful. Here is a union practicising democracy, something which the PAP is incapable of comprehending, and changing its leadership through the ballot box.

What does the Government do? It intervenes on the side of itself and makes unseemly threats against the union. The situation arose because the airline’s union members were of the view that their former leaders were not up to mark in negotiating with SIA management on their behalf during the recent round of wage cuts and retrenchments.

When one considers the merits of the case, the members have a right to feel aggrieved given the surge in SIA profits over the last few months.

The Government accuses the union of jeopardising Singapore’s chances of becoming an air-hub. What the PAP Government doesn’t understand about Singapore becoming an air-hub is that you cannot demand loyalty and productivity from its workers. This will have to come from the hearts of the employees who will have to feel that they have a say in how their company is run, including the right to negotiate their remuneration and working conditions.

Strong-arm tactics by the Government to force the union to accept its terms cannot inspire workers to give of their best. Without their best, can these workers turn Singapore into a world-class air-hub that the Government so greedily demands?

This attack is even more shameful and hypocritical given the fact that the ministers are ever so ready to pay themselves humongous salaries which are completely at variance with their own abilities. Yet they huff and puff when Singaporean workers want better compensation for the work they do. With the Government lacking in moral clarity, it should be the last to demand loyalty from workers in Singapore.

The Singapore Democrats hail the courage and conviction of the members of the Airline Pilots’ Association of Singapore in exercising their democratic rights and to stand up for what is just. We call on the union to stand resolute in the midst of the PAP onslaught and, so doing, be the beacon for workers in Singapore and encourage them to claim back their rights, dignity and sanity.

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party