THIRTY-TWO awards were given out yesterday at U Summit 2014, an event to honour unions, communities, social enterprises and their partners for recruiting, retaining and strengthening relationships among union members. The labour movement grew its membership by 4 per cent from 2009 to last year - just when global unionisation rates are falling. About 27 per cent of the resident workforce here are members of unions.

Vivek Kumar, secretary of the NTUC Membership Council, said that NTUC thinks it is encouraging that more workers, companies, associations and partners are seeing the value of being unionised. Ninety-five companies became unionised last year - the highest number in a decade; 93 of those 95 companies gave direct recognition when approached by unions to represent their employees, thus averting the need for a secret ballot among the employees to determine whether they should be represented by these unions. NTUC reads this as a sign of greater cooperation between management and unions.

The labour movement is also glad that the number of professionals, managers and executives (PME) union members is on the rise. The 235,000 PME members now account for a fifth of PMEs in the resident workforce; the target is for up to a quarter of them to be unionised.

NTUC assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said: "We are committed to ensuring that our unions can serve not just the rank-and-file, but also the PMEs, by building a platform for PMEs to network, share their aspirations, and gain access to professional-development opportunities customised to their needs."