Wed. Feb 28th, 2024
Office workers wearing protective face masks walk in Singapore's central business district, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore, August 17, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su

TL;DR – There’s more to being an NTUC union member than just collecting NTUC LinkPoints.

When the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) was first set up, it was set out to represent and protect the interests of the rank-and-file. But that’s because the majority of Singaporeans were working in such jobs in Singapore’s developing years.

However, as the profile of Singapore’s workforce evolves, and as more and more Singaporeans became more educated and took on white-collar jobs, NTUC knew it must be representative of the Professionals, Managers, and Executives (PMEs) and protect their interests as well.

In other words, NTUC is not just about the rank-and-file workers anymore and you’re quite behind time if you still think so.

Workplace Protection

Under the NTUC umbrella, there are 59 unions and 5 affiliated associations. In the event when a lone worker is facing a workplace dispute, the said worker can seek guidance and support on employment-related issues from the unions.

Because joining the union allows workers to have a bigger voice. It is a formal avenue that allows workers to collectively bargain with their employers on the employment terms which can be formalised into a Collective Agreement.

Here are some of the things which the unions will negotiate in the course of bargaining:

  • wages and allowances,
  • annual wage supplements,
  • variable payments,
  • medical/dental benefits,
  • housing benefits,
  • shift work,
  • annual leave,
  • sick leave,
  • maternity/ paternity leave,
  • compassionate leave,
  • retirement,
  • retrenchment benefits,
  • establishing a grievance procedure,
  • forming safety/productivity committees,
  • insurance coverage

One more important point that is worth noting is that most people aren’t aware of is that the union can also help you negotiate for retrenchment benefits in the event that your job is at risk.

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Aside from the unions, workers facing workplace disputes can also approach TADM @ NTUC for advice. He or she can also seek legal advice at legal clinics – for free.

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The above, however, is only possible if the worker is an NTUC union member.

A few years back, a friend of mine was asked to leave by her employer, and it wasn’t a pleasant one at all. In fact, she felt she was wrongfully dismissed. Helpless, she approached the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) for help.

According to her, the first thing she was being asked was if she is a union member. That was the moment she wished she had signed up earlier to become an NTUC union member!

More recently, to help PMEs identify the skills in demand which they should learn to land themselves in a good job amidst the various disruptions, NTUC has recently launched the NTUC PME Task Force. This new task force aims at protecting the interest of local PMEs, especially those between 40 and 60.

“We want to see how we can come together to help this group of PMEs so that they can have fair access to the job market, and if they are employed, how to make sure that they are adequately protected especially in a down economy,” said NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng.

Job Placement

In case you don’t already know, for union members who are looking for new job opportunities, they can also approach NTUC’s U PME Centre.

At the U PME Centre, members will be offered personalised coaching, as well as workshops to help them improve their resume, sharpen their ability to handle interviews, and increase their chances of being recruited by their potential employers.

He has a degree and years of working experience; so why can’t he find a job?

If you’d like to meet a U PME Centre Consultant or find out more about how U PME Centre can help PMEs, click here. This service is complimentary for all NTUC Union Members.

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Upskilling for Career Progression

In 2017, NTUC launched the U Future Leaders Exchange (UFLX) programme where members can get to attend learning journeys and networking events. There are also webinars targeted at PMEs which topic range from career advice, useful skills to mental health wellness.

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On top of that, to encourage more NTUC members to go for skills upgrading so as to have an edge over the average worker in the job market, union members also get $250 fee support per year from the Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) to help them defray their cost of training.

Yes, every year.

And oh by the way, for NTUC members who are aged 40 and above, you can enjoy even higher funding support up to $500 per individual each year until Dec 31, 2022! Check out the full list of UTAP Eligible Courses here.

So you see, even the Labour Movement expanded its reach to represent more segments of the working Singaporeans. Perhaps you should get rid of that old mindset that unions ain’t cool for PMEs, too.