18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
Serving with a Personal Touch

Contributed by Jonathan Tan and Ramesh Subbaraman

Tall, athletic and blessed with striking good looks, it comes as little surprise that Timothy Lim is the man they call when flights get delayed at Changi Airport. As an airline relations manager with SATS Airport Services, the 33-year-old has, arguably, one of the toughest jobs in the airport: Assuring affected passengers that they will be well taken care of while arrangements are being made for them to catch their next flight.

While he’s been a union member of the Air Transport Executive Staff Union (AESU) since joining SATS in 2010, it was through the various social and sports events organised by AESU that Timothy got interested in the union’s work and the Labour Movement. Timothy gradually got more involved and took on the roles of branch chairman for SATS and youth wing chairman for Young AESU in 2015.

“To be honest, it is very challenging to juggle time between my work as an airline relations manager and union work. However, I will always find time, sometimes even sacrificing, my personal time to listen and address the concerns of members. I want to add a personal touch to helping them in whatever way I can,” said the outgoing and sporty individual.

A People’s Champion

As a young worker himself, Timothy relates to the many aspirations and anxieties faced by his peers. “Some seek career growth and work-life balance. Others, like myself, are passionate and committed towards Labour Movement activities. Many of them also seek out learning and networking opportunities,” he said.

To that end, he shared how AESU has been making radical changes through collaborative partnerships with companies such as Singapore Airlines. “AESU has been collaborating with SATS and SIA to develop the future skills for the industry. We are doing this through continuous education and training… We always encourage members to upskill themselves to be more marketable and relevant.

“In SATS, we have introduced some new innovations like autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) and robotic arms for cooking. We will leverage these to increase productivity. On the social front, AESU organises talks on topics like housing and healthy living. We also recently launched the AESU Youth campus for youths to learn more about the Labour Movement. They were briefed on the industrial relations framework both in Singapore and within AESU,” he shared.

Besides his regular union work and day job, Timothy is also very active with Young NTUC. Recently, he joined fellow union members in cleaning up and refreshing the homes of residents in Kaki Bukit under Project Refresh.

To Timothy, the mix of sports activities such as futsal games, electronic darts and community causes is a great opener to let youths know more about the work of the unions and Labour Movement.  

Through such engagements, Timothy hopes to help young union members in AESU see the purpose of having a unified voice representing them in the workplace.

At the same time, he feels blessed to have had the guidance and mentorship of leaders from AESU and Young NTUC. “They have helped in grooming and developing me in my union work. Without them, I probably would not be where I am today,” he added.