TL;DR – NTUC union membership is for all workers, and the benefits outweigh membership costs.
Why should freelancers get an NTUC union membership? Here are 7 reasons that collectively you won’t find in any other membership scheme.
1. A collective voice
Freelancers or self-employed persons (SEPs) are vulnerable alone, subject to forces that you may not as a single person have any influence on.
If you band together as a group of freelancers, you could collectively negotiate for your common interests with other parties and stakeholders, even on a national level via Labour MPs.
Taxi drivers did it long ago (National Taxi Association).
PHV drivers did the same (National Private Hire Vehicles Association).
Sports coaches and instructors have also banded together (National Instructors and Coaches Association).
And if you’re not sure which association to join or how to feedback a grievance, you can contact NTUC’s UFSE (Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit).
2. Support for training
Every year, NTUC union members get $250 fee support per year from NTUC Training Fund (UTAP) to attend courses.
Every year okay, not just one-off.
Then you know that government Enhanced SEP Training Support Scheme – where freelancers get hourly training allowance from $7.50/hour from 1 to 30 Apr 2020 to $10/hour from 1 May to Dec 2020 – NTUC union members will get up to extra $1/hour in training allowance.
3. Financial assistance from NTUC Care Fund
If you had jobs/events cancelled as a freelancer and you’re an NTUC union member, you can apply for a one-off payout of up to $300 under NTUC Care Fund (COVID-19)
Low-to-medium income NTUC union members who are impacted by sudden loss of income can also apply for $250 NTUC FairPrice vouchers per child from CapitaLand – U Care Resilience & Enablement Fund (CAP+Ure Fund).
4. Financial assistance from respective associations affiliated to NTUC
Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers who are members of NTA and NPHVA respectively can apply for assistance under NTUC’s Care Package for Drivers. According to NTUC’s website, the $200 Driver Care Fund application is open until 17 April 2020.
Drivers can also visit a pop-up care centre at Begonia Terrace at Downtown East set up by NTA and NPHVA to apply for NTUC’s assistance funds, learn more about other forms of immediate assistance and also explore other job options.
The care centre includes a job fair backed by NTUC’s e2i which offers some 500 vacancies from participating employers like NTUC FairPrice, SBS Transit and SMRT (until 17 April 2020 also).
5. Be insured against death and total permanent disability by NTUC Gift insurance
NTUC union members who are below 65 years old are automatically covered against death and total/partial & permanent disability of up to S$40,000 with NTUC Gift insurance.
According to NTUC’s website, eligible members aged 65 years and above may opt for extension of coverage with payment of a token fee. The token fee has been waived until 2022.
6. Get free assistance from TADM@NTUC for disputes
Freelancers who want to resolve payment-related disputes can approach TADM@NTUC for free assistance, and your case will even be given priority over that of a non-NTUC union member.
A freelance coach who is an NTUC union member approached TADM@NTUC to claim his unpaid payment from a client who repeatedly stalled and even ignored him.
According to Dollars and Sense website which first carried this story,
When he tried to contact the client to enquire about the payment, the client repeatedly told him their computer had issues hence the payment hasn’t been paid yet. It came to a point that the client didn’t even want to reply.
He was frustrated over the payment issue as he has a family to feed and he was still coaching at the client’s premises without knowing when he would be paid for the earlier sessions.
He searched online and learnt about TADM @ NTUC online. He contacted TADM @ NTUC to raise his issue and informed them that he was an NTUC member.
Soon after, an NTUC staff contacted him. He had a few missed calls as he was busy coaching and only picked up his phone after 7pm. He was very moved that the NTUC staff worked late as the staff tried to call him even after office hours.
After understanding his situation more, the NTUC staff emailed the client and received a reply within 3 days. “When I emailed (the client), the client kept on saying the computer spoilt, then when NTUC emailed, suddenly their computer wasn’t spoilt anymore,” the coach shared.
Shortly after, he received the payment he was owed, and he is still being engaged as a coach. He is grateful the issue was resolved without having to go through SCT, as he had heard that if self-employed persons go SCT they may get blacklisted by the client in future.
7. Privileges and deals to save money
Having an NTUC union membership also comes with privileges and deals to save money.
Freelancers who send their preschoolers to My First Skool get about $8.50 worth of Linkpoints every month (or ~$102 a year). This already offsets a huge chunk of the NTUC union membership fee ($117 a year).
You can also jointly sign up for FairPrice membership where you can get yearly rebates and dividends for spending at FairPrice.
NTUC union members also enjoy cheaper food and drink and Foodfare, and discounts on healthcare, merchants and more.
There are too many privileges to list here, you can check out the full range here.
Bonus: Before you sign up, find an NTUC union member to get a referral code so both of you get freebies.