18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
The leader who finds great fulfillment in union work
Time flies and it’s time for yet another Union Leader feature! This month, we interviewed Tan Yong Jun from the Chemical Industries Employees' Union (CIEU).

As a Biomedical Science major, Yong Jun did not imagine finding himself working in the chemical industry. Still, with hard work and perseverance, Yong Jun has been in CIEU for close to a decade now. Currently, Yong Jun works at Pfizer Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, where he analyses medicinal drugs that include Cancer drugs and strong painkillers as part of his day-to-day role as a Senior QC Analyst.

Ask us how we would describe Yong Jun, and we will definitely call him an old-school collector! Yong Jun finds joy in collecting shrimps, cameras, local currencies and also Gundam figurines! Just take a look at his Gundam collections below!  
As for the local currencies, Yong Jun learnt the prefix, signature of the MOF, mintage and the design of the banknotes, and hopes to pass this hobby and legacy to his children one day.

1.    What advice would you give youths who are looking to join your role in the industry?

Well... The work as a QC Analyst could be rather repetitive and taxing. As most pharmaceutical plants run on 24-hours cycle to manufacture chemical products continuously, QC analyst would need to be onsite to conduct testing for each production phrases to ensure they pass through the stipulated standards before they are put for sale in the market.
This means, a typical work shift could range from 8 to 12 hours a day and many times, even on weekend. The excitement for the job could wear off after a while, as such it is important to always find meaning in what we do.
Yong Jun also noted that the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are safe options in a rather dynamic world as there will always be demand for medical drugs.

2.    How long have you been volunteering at Young NTUC?

Till date, I have been volunteering for Young NTUC for 6 to 7 years. I am 34 years old now, which means I am at my last serving term. However, I do hope to stay as an observer and continue to be a part of Young NTUC.

3.    Given the rather hectic work schedule you have, what makes you keen to volunteer as a Union Leader at Young NTUC for so long?

Although the call to become a Union Leader was through a nomination to represent my company back then, I am glad I took up the opportunity. Being a union leader at Young NTUC has offered me many learning opportunities.
Apart from so, I am also blessed with the opportunity to be able to help others through labour movement such as fighting against unfair treatments or for the benefits for the union members.

4.    Do you have any incidents to share that you have helped a union member?

I remember there was a dispute incident where I was called to sit in as a mediator and negotiator for the union member. Through the session, I tried to understand the situation and eventually helped to defend my union member. In the end, the case ended with a verbal warning instead of a termination. I am glad I was able to make an impact and help the union member to save his job. Such incidents give me fulfillment in what I do and motivate me to want to help others more.

5.    You mentioned Young NTUC offers learning opportunities for the union leaders, could you share with us more?

Young NTUC has learning and exchange programs where we get the opportunity to travel overseas to meet union leaders from other countries. Through such trips, we get to learn how other countries run their unions, and eventually draw things which we can use to improve our unions.  

Apart from so, these trips also opened my eyes to realize how blessed our unions are in Singapore as often unions in other countries have no government support. Those unions serve as a very humbling experience for me in the way they demonstrate resilience in laboring for the causes they fight for.

6.    How would you describe Young NTUC?

To me, Young NTUC is fun and enjoyable! We work hard and play hard; it is always a good time!