18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
Our Everyday Heroes

When David bumped into Mdm Jamilya along the corridor a week after the Young Singapore Teachers’ Union (STU) Cleaners Appreciation Lunch, she proudly updated him on her sons’ progress, with one graduating from the Institute of Technological Education (ITE) and her daughter entering the Nanyang Technological University soon. It was news as such that warms the heart of David, who chairs STU as he recalls how the Young STU Cleaners Appreciation Lunch provided the opportunity for teachers and students to get to know more about these silent everyday heroes.

Donning her blue uniform, Mdm Jamilya was one of the cleaners working at Crescent Girls’ School appreciated at the lunch held on 27 June 2014. This lunch saw the school’s cleaners, operations support staff and security officers being presented tokens of appreciation by Mrs Tan Chen Kee, Principal of Crescent Girls’ School. Student representatives were also present to express their heartfelt appreciation for the tireless contributions the cleaners, support staff and security officers have put in.

On sharing what was going on lately, Mdm Jamilya highlighted that her company has sent her for training as the union subsidies the courses available for her, which in turn helps her earn a decent wage and improve her quality of life.

“When I first started working here three years ago, my pay was $700. Because of NTUC, my pay increased to $800 and this year, it increased to $1050. Of course I am very happy.” Mdm Jamilya recounted when speaking to David about her thoughts on how her wages have increased due to her learning new skills. The salary increase eased the financial burdens for the family and also helps put her two children through school.

The testimony that Mdm Jamilya shared affirmed NTUC efforts to increase the salaries of low wage workers and David was encouraged at how Mdm Jamilya would share with him what she learns each time she attends a course.

“One of the biggest takeaways I have would be how putting together this appreciation lunch created a fantastic opportunity to share with the other teachers/school staff about the contributions of these everyday heroes, we were also able to use this opportunity to teach our students about respect,” David shared when reflecting upon the event.

All in all, David hopes that this small gesture, which Young STU will continue to show, can go a long way in showing how much the contributions made by these workers are valued in the school.

And of course Young STU is not planning on stopping at Crescent Girls’ School, but hopes to inspire others to conduct similar events that benefit fellow teachers and other workers in their midst.