2 May 2013
Three ways to grow the pie
Neo Chai Chin
Singapore — At local ice-cream outfit Udders, staff no longer make each batch of ice cream by hand — now that water-cooled and pasteurisation machines have taken over.
The result? This has halved cost of kitchen staff and reduced utility bills, with workers benefiting through its profit-sharing scheme. The company received grants from SPRING Singapore and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, making the automation possible.
The firm was one of three examples cited by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at NTUC’s May Day Rally, to illustrate how Singapore has to grow the pie for everyone — to raise wages, it must continue to grow its economy through quality investments, investing in the future and restructuring the domestic economy, he said.
On restructuring the economy, Mr Lee acknowledged that it would not be easy to raise productivity. Improvements take time, but “if we persevere, if we press on at this, we will succeed”, he said, citing the case of Udders.
Labour Chief Lim Swee Say said the national drive to raise productivity does not mean workers have to work harder and longer hours. The man known for snappy aphorisms such as “cheaper, better, faster”, or CBF, yesterday coined a new one.
To achieve better jobs, pay and worklife for workers, he said there are three “hows”.
“The first ‘how’ is to be CBF. The second ‘how’ is to make the job, the life of the worker more ESS — easier, smarter and safer.” The third “how” is to “value every worker”, added the NTUC Secretary-General.
On how Singapore can achieve better jobs by attracting quality investments, Mr Lee cited how, in Seletar, Rolls-Royce’s team of workers produce wide chord fan blades for the latest aircraft engines — the only factory outside of the United Kingdom to do so.
Not only do its Singapore operations generate business for local small and medium firms when components or shipping is needed — its staff strength, 85 per cent local, will also grow from 650 to 770 by the end of this year.
The workers have been trained at Rolls-Royce’s Derby estate in the UK, and innovations developed here have been applied back in Derby, Mr Lee noted.
As for investing in the future, the Prime Minister cited consumer goods corporation Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) new Singapore Innovation Centre at Biopolis. Consumer insights — such as what skincare products would suit Asian skin and what perfumes would hold olfactory appeal for the Asian consumer — will be uncovered here.
Mr Lee related how P&G Chairman Bob McDonald said the Republic was the best place to host the innovation centre because of its connections in Asia, strong research capabilities, highly-educated workers and strong intellectual property rights protection.
The Government, Mr Lee added, is investing in the “Future of Services” programme to create new industries in big data analytics and consumer insights, as well as the S$500 million “Future of Manufacturing” programme that will develop new manufacturing capabilities.