A day following PM Lee’s NDR speech, Workers’ Party (WP) MP Louis Chua took to Facebook saying that he was “pleased to hear MOM is studying the issues faced by delivery workers in Singapore”.
Apparently, earlier this year, the MP for Sengkang GRC had raised concerns on the safety net of gig economy workers in Parliament. March 2021 to be exact.
Chua shared that during the MOM Committee of Supply Debate in March 2021, he asked the Ministry if more could be done to protect the interests of gig economy workers through a safety net that includes mandatory insurance and minimum levels of benefits.
Truth be told, the labour movement has been hard at work way before that, dear Mr Louis Chua.
The Labour Movement has been urging stronger laws to protect gig workers for some time now, and it’s not all NATO – No Action, Talk Only. They have been doing the hard work to support this group of workers throughout the pandemic be it through upskilling efforts and helping workers pivot to jobs with more stability, application of support grants or raising their concerns faced on the ground. Countless rounds of engagements with many, many delivery riders.
In his National Day Rally (NDR) speech, PM Lee expressed concern to delivery workers on online platforms – like Foodpanda, Grab, and Deliveroo – noting that they earn modest income despite their hard work during the pandemic. PM also shared that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is studying how to give delivery workers a more secure future, as more people take up such work.
With freelance work arrangements gaining ground, even years back, the Government has recognised that these citizens would also need to be cared for under the nation’s frameworks for retirement adequacy.
The gig economy cannot develop without stronger workplace protection and retirement support. We need a robust framework to protect freelancers and the employers hiring them. – Desmond Choo, Parliament Feb 2017
Back in December 2020, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) has also set up a new association, the National Delivery Champions Association (NDCA), to represent delivery riders. Supported by NTUC, the group has worked closely with various stakeholders to address work issues faced by FSEs, enhance support frameworks and uplift work prospects. Extension of grace period at car parks, designated rest areas, support on relief scheme applications… These are but some of the initiatives that have been rolled out!
Currently many delivery riders bear the risk of illnesses and injuries themselves. You know how it is for this group of workers, downtime often means loss in income for them… NDCA seeks to address the safety of FSE delivery riders by ensuring all members have sufficient insurance coverage in the event of income disruption.
In a recent interview, NTUC Secretary General, Mr Ng Chee Meng also shared that NTUC is exploring ways to better support these riders – pushing for better terms and conditions for delivery riders, better workplace conditions and safety, and also medical benefits.
The NTUC is working on proposals over the next few months to see how the union can ensure adequate protection. As the gig economy continues to grow, the union continues to put in the hard work to make sure that the welfare of this group of workers is taken care of! And this work, has been ongoing for a while now.