18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
Meaningful Pursuits

Story by Gurmeet Singh, Labourbeat

A Manager at Urban Redevelopment Authority (Car Parks, Administration & Policies), April has long had a relationship with the labour movement. Working for a union in Australia at one point, she has now brought that passion along with her to Singapore.

Tell us a little bit about what you do at work.

Being part of the planning team in the car parks division, we often have to evaluate and respond to requests and feedback from the public and various organisations and agencies pertaining to URA’s car parks. We also assist operationally with the preparation process leading to any upcoming implementation, relocation or closure of URA’s parking places.

How did you get involved in union work?

I was involved in union work back when I was residing in Australia. A union official visited the supermarket where I was working part-time while pursuing my Honours Degree. After our conversation, I decided to apply for a position at the organisation and the rest is history.

I worked full-time as a union official advocating workers’ rights and representing members at dispute resolution meetings. Every job has its ups and downs, but I enjoyed it because of how meaningful it is, and knowing that I have made a positive impact on someone’s life. The sense of fulfilment reminds me of why I chose to join the Labour Movement and it keeps me going.

I remember there was once I represented a member and saved her from an unfair dismissal. The following day, she wrote a compliment email to my boss and revealed that the stress and anxiety from the ordeal was making her suicidal, but when I came along, she felt I was her pillar of hope and strength. Such messages of gratitude are great motivational factors for us.

I have carried the same passion and belief in the labour movement, even after my return to Singapore. This was why I joined the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority Workers’ Union (SURAWU) as a Council Member.

We understand that you are also working with Young NTUC.

I was appointed into the Young NTUC main committee through my involvement with SURAWU. It is heartwarming to see and know that there are many young individuals out there who appreciate and understand the need for unions to exist in the world. Not only does NTUC care about workers’ rights and entitlements, a lot of emphasis is also placed on gathering the community and involving them in volunteer projects to help the less privileged.

What is the one thing that motivates you?

My family. I love being around my family, which is the main reason why I decided to return to Singapore even after having lived in Australia for a decade. I certainly do not wish to miss out witnessing the many milestones of my precious nieces and nephews. God and home are my refuge. No matter how tough it may be out there, I take comfort in knowing that they are there for me and I am never alone. They unconditionally support and motivate me to run towards my dream.

How do you combine your personal life with work and your role as a union leader?

If anything, I would prefer to keep them separate. At work, I have to learn to switch between different hats, depending on the circumstances – either I am speaking as a manager or as a union leader. Though when it comes to talking about the benefits of being a union leader, I never let go of any opportunity to share – during lunch times at work and at social settings. Our union experience can be a good dinner topic too!

What is the one advice you would give a youth to meet today’s challenges?

I feel it is important to acknowledge that challenges in life are inevitable. It is also in our mind if we view a challenge as big or small. Whatever it is, my advice is let us not perceive challenges as something negative. When a challenge is presented to you, take it as part of a learning process that helps us become a better version of ourselves. First, you can break down the challenge into smaller segments so you have better clarity on what you are dealing with. Next, list down the steps you can take to alleviate the situation and follow up with the necessary actions. Remember to seek help if needed! As the saying goes, two brains are better than one. Know that once you conquer this challenge, you will emerge stronger than before.

How do you see the future of youths here and around the world?

These days, youths have it easier than past generations. Most things are already put in place for us, thus we can afford to focus more time, energy and resources on pursuing our passions and dreams. The youths today are also more vocal than before. If we learn to spend our time and resources on the right things and at the right places, I am sure the world will be a better place for future generations to come.

What are the few things in life that make you happy?

Good food! Good friends! Recently i also found enjoyment in running. It helps me clear my mind.