18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
Thoroughly Engaged in Union Work

Muhammad Zuhaili Arof’s first foray into union work involved helping with the union magazine. Approached by the Housing and Development Board Staff Union (HDBSU) General Treasurer, he readily agreed to lend a hand.

The 26-year-old Higher Administrative Executive with the Housing & Development Board (HDB) saw it as an opportunity to assist his colleagues and learn about the core functions of a union.

It has since been two years and Zuhaili has chalked up quite a few experiences.

Advantages of cordial labour-management relations
“Since joining HDBSU, I’ve witnessed a number of unforgettable moments. One was the signing of the Collective Agreement between our Union and the Management in September 2013. It is a significant step to ensure a better and stronger labour-management relationship (LMR).

In this aspect, HDBSU has definitely widened my knowledge in matters relating to the union and labour movement. My General Secretary, Brother Richard Tan, provides insights and shares his experiences whenever possible. Working in an environment that supports LMR is a blessing; my supervisor understands the union commitments I have. This makes it easier for me to allocate time for family, work and union.

Besides working hard to maintain a healthy LMR, we also play hard together. During this year’s U-Games Futsal Challenge, the HDBSU team managed to clinch 2nd place in the Men’s Open Category. It was definitely a moment to celebrate.

Delivering more to members
“As a young union member, I can understand the difficulty in engaging the younger generation. As a starting point, a friendly way to gain their attention is by addressing concerns that relate to them.

This is where we can apply a personal touch, chat with them and understand their needs. Young HDBSU is hoping to start a marketing drive to educate HDB staff on their rights. This can empower them and give them an avenue to clarify work-related doubts.

Personally, being in the union has made me realise and appreciate the benefits initiated by the union. Meanwhile, HDBSU continues to give new and young members opportunities to organise or lead events. The results are creating a feeling of trust in the team while propelling the union to greater heights. I dare say that this is an important process as it helps us to gain confidence through our active participation in the union.”

Little drops make an ocean
“Being a member of Young NTUC Committee has allowed me to play a bigger role in understanding and addressing concerns of my fellow members. It has also given me insight into common issues faced by other young union leaders. I really appreciate the enthusiasm, support and guidance from the Young NTUC Secretariat.

Every time I receive help, I make it a point to do a good deed to give back to the society. This is why I hope to reach out to every individual and help them understand the importance of union in the workplace. It may take years but I am taking small steps; by joining the union committee, contributing and making a difference to every individual.”