Formation of Specialist Trade Alliance of Singapore

The campaign for the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act originated in year 2001 with a group of six trades associations who described themselves informally as the “six trades associations”. However, the campaign was directed only at the construction industry, and some of the six trades associations were not in the construction sector. Nevertheless, the moral support of those who were not in the construction sector was critical in the early stages of the campaign. It must be remembered that prior to this, the trades associations had never canvassed the government to enact any legislation before. There were some who feared that the campaign might incur the wrath of the government if the trades associations over stepped the line. Despite this fear, the trades associations outside the construction sector continued to lend their support to the campaign. Without their selfless support the campaign would not have proceeded in the first place.

The publicity generated by the campaign attracted many other construction trades associations to join in the campaign. By 2002, with new participants joining, the trade associations not within the construction sector was able to bow out graciously from the campaign without derailing the campaign. The participating associations selected a Committee to spearhead the campaign.

The campaign’s success in year 2004 showed the ten to twelve participating trade associations that it was possible to canvass the government with well reasoned proposals without upsetting the apple cart. It also showed that each trade association by itself was focused on too narrow an area to bring about changes to the contractual environment. Collectively, the trade associations have a bigger voice that can work better with the government agencies. However, each of the ten to twelve trade associations was a registered society in its own right. Some questioned the need to register a new society merely to represent the existing ones. Others felt that a loose collection of societies might present administrative and leadership problems in future. The associations came to us for advice on their dilemma.

Matters came to a head when those higher up the contract chain within the construction industry opposed the SOP legislation. They questioned the credentials of the Committee to represent the construction industry. This challenge showed the participating trade associations that they needed to formalize their grouping to inspire greater confidence in the Committee that they had created. And they needed to do so without surrendering the leadership and effectiveness of individual trade associations. After some negotiations, the ten to twelve trade associations finally agreed on the formation of the new Specialist Trades Alliance, Singapore (“STAS”) as the new society to take the industry forward. The goodwill generated by the successful campaign for new legislation enabled the trades associations to overcome the hurdles and compromise needed to form the association.

After a decade of liaising with the government agencies and other partners up and down the value chain, STAS has positioned itself as a responsible and credible stakeholder in the construction industry.

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