Leader in the Spotlight: Young Union Leader Monteiro Mohamad Azhar Abdul Aziz
How do we define fairness? Young Union Leader Monteiro Mohamad experienced unfair treatment when he first started working and this eventually became the catalyst for him to advocate fairer work practices for working people in the shipping industry. Now a union branch chairman under the Advanced Manufacturing Employees’ Union (AMEU), he shares with us the incident that occurred when he was working in his previous organisation, and how it was a key turning point that made him step up as a Young Union Leader in 2015.
I never thought this would happen to me…
“I was having a discussion with my colleagues to plan for tomorrow’s work schedules, but the management misunderstood that I was idling,” recounted Monteiro. This happened during the staff’s bonus payout period, and the management team was particularly more vigilant in “catching” staff who were seen to not be performing their duties.
Monteiro’s name was recorded and sent to HR for performance review, including re-assessment of his eligibility for bonus. This news came as a shock to him. He voiced out to his manager that he was being treated unjustly.
“Why should I be flagged out when I was dutifully working?”
Union leaders from the Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Employees' Union (SMEEU) who were taking care of the particular branch caught wind of the incident and reached out Monteiro to support his case. Monteiro is thankful for the union’s protection, saying, “I’ve worked at the company since I was 16 and has been an NTUC member since then. Before this incident, I never really understood how the union could protect workers against unfair treatments, and how the union could help me one day.”
Monteiro’s case was eventually resolved, and he received his due bonus.
While he had heard of fellow peers sharing different types of unjust they faced at work, he had never imagine he would one day go through it. The incident left a deep impact on him and made him think further on how he can make the workplaces better.
An invite to join and a decision he did not regret…
After the incident, the SMEEU reached out to Monteiro once again and asked for his interest to join the Union. Monteiro agreed and this was the start of his Union Leader journey.
Taking on different portfolios meant that Monteiro constantly juggles numerous responsibilities. These include performing his work duties to the best of his abilities, listening to grievances and managing issues related to work timings, pay discrepancy, and the transfer of roles and responsibilities. But despite this busy schedule, Monteiro says the meaningfulness of the things he does make the stress he faced much more manageable than it seems.
Since 2015, he has been actively representing the voices of workers, especially foreign workers who often have difficulty communicating to management due to a weaker command of English.
He also shared how NTUC has been giving opportunities and support to groom him further. He managed to pick up valuable skills related to industrial relations, grievance handling, effective communications through personal development courses planned out by NTUC. He also had the opportunities to interact and network with policy makers and foreign delegates. These were platforms where he got to share his views on how policies may impact young workers and to voice out ground sentiments of our young workers.
We paused here for a quick fun fact…
If you are wondering why two unions were mentioned in this article, it isn’t a typo!
Monteiro decided to leave his previous workplace and move on to another as part of his career progression plans. The new company is a unionised branch under AMEU instead of SMEEU. But Monteiro remains passionate and wish to continue serving and Young NTUC stepped forward to bridge the link. Today, Monteiro is the Exco member in AMEU and also Young NTUC Co-Chairperson of the industrial sector.
Now back to the story…
A future generation of mission-driven leaders…
One of Monteiro’s favourite quotes: “You are either part of a solution, or part of a problem.” He hopes more PMEs will step up, whether it is to be a Young Union Leader or to start getting involved in union work. We all have the power to effect changes and make workplaces better for every worker.
For Monteiro, success means doing something good to benefit someone. Big or small, it is a cause for celebration. Success is not just measured by financial goals; it is about creating meaning. He hopes to come up with more innovative ways to recruit new members into the union in 2022.
Be the one to create new ideas for solutions which spark positive social change for our future. Like Monteiro, you can be the voice of your community, and promote more equitable practices to protect your peers against injustice. Connect with Young NTUC today. Subscribe to our Digi-Fam e-newsletter to access our career resources and support network including the latest event happenings and more!
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