Championing Change for Youths
It all started because he was bored after school at the young age of 15, and was looking for activities to participate in. A “love affair” spanning over 15 years now and counting, Azri Zulfarhan’s serendipitious involvement with Young NTUC soon became a journey of passion for the labour movement.
“The events at Young NTUC gave me the chance to observe meetings held by leaders of varying organisations. Though I was young, that drew me back time and again because I realised this was really serious business. More importantly, I soon gathered how all these activities are actually a platform for me to express my opinions and even solve issues that my peers and I are concerned over!” said Azri candidly.
The very willingness to put himself up to be an agent of change propelled Azri’s growth as a young union leader. In addition to representing the Union of ITE Training Staff (UITS), he is also the Chairperson of Young NTUC Committee. Highly driven with a contagious gusto, Azri’s personal goal is to deliver real impact in helping with addressing youth-related issues and concerns at a national level.
He shared, “My work as a lecturer and involvement with youth causes made me realise that many youths are not aware of the platforms available for them to share their opinions. I seek to become a voice for youths by raising their concerns at dialogues and meetings spearheaded by Young NTUC. Through organising workshops or forums for youths, we also avail opportunities for them to come forward to discuss how their rights at work can be better looked into.”
Azri highly encourages youths to join the union not merely for their own benefits, but also in lending their voices to others. With Singapore’s biggest resource being its people, he believes that every worker truly matters and it is thus of utmost importance that the concerns of workers are addressed. To do this, voices need to be adequately gathered for issues to be heard, and in turn improved upon.
Two of the most memorable dialogues that Azri was involved in are discussion on paternity leave and whether women should serve National Service. Both topics generated many differing views as they covered debates over gender roles and societal expectations. Not one to mince his words, he spoke honestly at the dialogues, sharing perspectives based on his personal experience, ground observations and research.
“Dialogues provide an opportunity for different aspects of the issues to be heard. We don’t go into dialogues agreeing with everyone but it allows us to probe, scratch beyond the surface and provide a more complete picture for the issue to be thoroughly considered. I’m glad to be able to contribute to a better outcome in provision of some benefits at the workplace as the society’s needs evolve.”
Always wanting to use his time meaningfully, Azri actively volunteers at where his help could deliver a difference – such as providing meals to the homeless at the height of the pandemic. The father of 6 also involves his children in voluntary work, in the hope for them to learn how everyone can do a part for the community.