Co-ops And The 10 Fold Increase In Union Membership In Singapore

In 1971 the NTUC started its insurance company, NTUC Income, serving those on low income who the established, for-profit insurance companies, saw little value in as customers. Up until then, low-income workers had often been left without insurance coverage, putting their families at risk. Today it is the largest composite insurance company in the country with over 2 million policy holders. It continues to provide help to those in need and who are not served by conventional businesses. For example, the Silvercare Autism Scheme provides coverage for children and young persons with autism; something for-profit insurance providers are not willing to do.

In 1973 the trade unions expanded into retail, establishing NTUC FairPrice to provide affordable goods to their members during the oil-crisis. The prime minister at the time, Lee Kuan Yew, was there to open the first shop. The cooperative has now expanded to become the largest retailer in the country, with about 55% market share. It has not lost its social mission - in 2018, for example, it distributed over half a million text books to students from low-income families and provided food vouchers to low-income union households.

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