18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
The Joys Of A Helping Hand

Evelyn Lee, a 25-year-old senior inventory planner, admits she enjoys being able to help out. An active person both at and outside work, there are times when Evelyn has also doubled up as a photographer at various office events.

Hence, it wasn’t long that Evelyn’s enthusiasm caught the attention of her branch secretary. “When he asked if I was keen to assist him with union work, I gladly accepted it.”

A balancing act
In February 2011, Evelyn joined the union committee through FDAWU (Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union) FairPrice Second Quadrennial General Meeting.

Since then, Evelyn has learnt to strike a balance between union work, family and work commitments. “Most of us are volunteers, we do not want to jeopardise our work due to union commitments thus we try to arrange meetings after work. Sometimes the meetings can last till as late as 11pm which ‘eats’ into our family time.”

For a start, Evelyn emphasis there is a need to look out for potential young workers to further expand FDAWU’s pool of young branch officials. She also hopes that more young workers will step up to serve as branch officials. “We will get them to help out at our events, have them familiarise with how we work so that they can assess for themselves the work we do and how we are able to impact the workers’ lives.”

Young NTUC has also enriched her journey as it broadens Evelyn’s union network and perspective. Evelyn recalled: “I was privileged to be sent as a Singapore delegate for the 5th International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific, Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute and Japan International Labour Foundation Youth Leadership Course in 2012 through Young NTUC. For the first time, I met with foreign union delegates where we had several exchanges on the union situation in each of our countries.”

But Evelyn is grateful and heartened to know that her company and family have been supportive in her union work. “I invite my family members to some of the family events organised by the union. At the same time, I share and let them know what I have been doing in the union.”

Nothing beats being appreciated by our members
Evelyn explained: “We are in the people-business. I definitely hope that we can be the voice of the workers and be able to address their needs and concerns.” She also revealed that recently a member had approached her to commend on her efforts: “She told me that she is proud to have me as their union representative and thank me for all the works I have done for the members. That totally came unexpected. I am truly humbled by her comments.”

Evelyn added that she have been fortunate to receive help from people through the years. “It is my wish to give back to the society in whatever ways I can and my work at the union does provide me the channel to give back to the society.”
Rounding up the conversation, Evelyn shares another Mother Teresa quote: “It is not how much we do but how much love we put in that action.”