18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
Trending Towards Better Times

As increased emphasis is placed on productivity at the workplace, Lim Wen Sheng is aware it can lead to overwork, stress and fatigue. However, the 28-year-old technical support executive with NTUC FairPrice Co-operative Limited is prepared to devote time to various commitments – within the limits of his juggling skills.

An executive council member of FDAWU (Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union), Wen Sheng continues to advocate safeguarding the workplace interests of its members. Keen to share his experience in union work, Wen Sheng aims to be an available resource to members requiring assistance.

From temping to full-time employee
“I worked at NTUC FairPrice as a part-time cashier back in 2007. I was still a full-time student then, but I was already interested in privileges available to union members. I have to admit that at the time, it was the social benefits that attracted me. In 2010, I joined FairPrice as a full time staff and in the same year, I was introduced to the union in greater depth.”

Beyond discounted movie tickets
“Besides the social benefits, I discovered there were more important reasons to be a union member. For instance, my most compelling reason for joining the Branch Committee was tied to the issue of receiving workplace representation. I am able to get expert advice and assistance on workplace issues from the union’s experienced industrial relations officers. It is comforting to know that every member can reach out for a helping hand and a listening ear.”

Diverse, yet operating as a single entity
“Becoming a Young NTUC Committee member is a brand new experience for me. Through Young NTUC, I learnt how to organise programmes and activities with the goal of promoting interaction and mutual support among young members.

We are working hard to keep ourselves the largest and most vibrant youth movement in Singapore. I have become a more active and purposeful person when it comes to engaging members. Building bonds between the various Youth Chapters is valuable as we all work together towards common and larger goals for our members.”

Stay patient and carry on
“It is difficult to attract the younger generation to serve the union because 9 out of 10 will tell you that they are not interested or they hold other commitments. Career and family are their top priorities. The only strategy is to be patient and keep on trying. There is no hard and fast rule to get them interested.”

Your concern is our concern
“I conducted a survey earlier this year among the Young NTUC Committee and their members. The results revealed that the cost of accommodation, transport and healthcare are their top three concerns. The purpose of the survey was to gather feedback to help us focus on these issues which we will surface and address through appropriate channels. We never forget that our purpose is to serve our members.”

A rewarding journey
“In the course of my union work, I have been exposed to different people, environments and situations. Each of us can do our part to promote good industrial relations between members and their employers. It is satisfying to know that every step we take can improve the working conditions of members and enhance their economic and social status. For the bigger picture, by raising productivity, not just members benefit, but also employers and the Singapore economy.

The knowledge I’ve gained has been plentiful. I am thankful for what I have been through and I am proud to be part of this big family.”

I wish…
“We can continuously strive to be a strong and united nation and be caring at heart. I agree with Mr Lim Swee Say that we need to progress economically, socially, and build a better workforce.”