THE National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is losing two more of its top leaders this year, in yet another setback following the departure of seven MPs and high- profile leaders since 2011.
THE National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is losing two more of its top leaders this year, in yet another setback following the departure of seven MPs and high-profile leaders since 2011.
They are Mr Francis Lim Pan Hong and Mr Mohd Rasi Taib, both members of the central committee, the labour movement's top decision-making body.
Mr Lim left NTUC and the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries (UWEEI) last month after he and most of his colleagues were retrenched by Hitachi Cables, which moved its manufacturing to Vietnam.
He was UWEEI's president.
Mr Rasi is set to leave the central committee after he was ousted at branch elections of the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU), where he is president.
Their stepping down will leave the 21-member committee - which has served less than half of its four-year term - with 18 people. First to leave was NTUC deputy secretary-general Ong Ye Kung, who resigned last year and joined the private sector.
The committee is elected by delegates and consists of unionists from affiliated unions and labour politicians like secretary-general Lim Swee Say and deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How.
Since 2011, NTUC has lost several prominent figures due to promotion, retirement or resignation.
They include labour MPs Halimah Yacob, Josephine Teo, Seng Han Thong, Zainudin Nordin and Alex Yam, as well as Mr Desmond Choo, who was NTUC's deputy director of industrial relations.
The vacancies in the central committee can be filled by appointment but NTUC declined to disclose if it would do so before the next election in 2015.
Said its vice-president K. Karthikeyan, pointing to the 60 affiliated unions and more than 400 union delegates: "There's enough depth in the labour movement to fill these vacancies as and when required."
He also said Mr Francis Lim and Mr Rasi had served the committee well and "will be missed".
Traditionally, UWEEI and NTWU are represented on the central committee by a president or general secretary because they are two of Singapore's most important blue-collar unions.
"The electronics sector is volatile and vulnerable to retrenchment and restructuring. So it would be good to have someone from our workers' ranks in the central committee," said Mr Francis Lim, now a senior specialist at Migrant Workers' Centre.
Also lamenting the loss of representation was NTWU general secretary Fang Chin Poh: "Our members make up the ranks of essential public transport services, for both buses and rail. It will definitely be a loss if we do not have a voice in the central committee."
Asked about Mr Rasi's surprise defeat at branch elections earlier this year, Mr Fang would only say: "Union leaders have to communicate with the ground and maintain strong support. After all, members have the right to vote you in or not to vote you in."
Mr Rasi declined to comment. He remains NTWU president until the delegates' conference in September, when a new president will be elected.