Singapore Tripartism Forum

Ministry of ManpowerNational Trades Union CongressSingapore National Employers Federation
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Tripartism in Singapore

Industrial relations in Singapore were confrontational in the 1950s and early 1960s, with high unemployment, poor working conditions, and social unrest. Independence, thrust upon Singapore in 1965, created an historic turning point.


Faced with a dire economic situation and limited resources, industrialisation was imperative for our survival as a new nation. The crucial challenge was to attract and retain foreign investment to create jobs for Singaporeans, and to achieve sustainable growth and development.


Towards this end, trade unions affiliated to the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) supported the government’s call to move away from the traditional adversarial unionism and confrontational labour-management relations, with a shared conviction to strive for industrial peace with justice. 


A new spirit of tripartism was thus born, with the government, a responsible labour movement, and enlightened employers adopting a consultative problem-solving approach to address the challenges of industrialisation for the mutual benefit of employers, workers, and society.


Each social partner lived up to and delivered on its commitments. Employers established profitable and sustainable businesses. The economy grew. More job opportunities with higher skills and better pay for workers were created.  Looking forward, the shared vision of the government, employers, and trade unions in Singapore is to achieve continued sustainable economic and social progress and a better quality of life for all Singaporeans in an inclusive and cohesive society.