18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
She values gender equality, legacy and goes above and beyond

Meet Pravita d/o Nithiah Nandan Mrs Subin, the jovial Assistant Station Manager at SMRT. Although it’s a male-dominating industry, she continuously thrives as she believes that no gender should hinder one from doing their job. In fact, she wants to ensure that all her passengers’ needs are attended to as she never wants them to feel left out and under-appreciated. That speaks a lot about her personality and dedication to work. She was nominated to become a part of Young NTUC, and we can clearly see why as she possesses the qualities of a true leader.

During our interview, she shared some of the most fascinating things about her work which an outsider could not even imagine. It was an eye-opener of what the industry looks like, and how much patience one needs to have if they plan to work there.

It’s more than just making sure that the trains are well-kept. It’s about embracing genuine customer service and knowing the right technical skills in terms of safety which includes even first aid. Likewise, she opened up on how Young NTUC inspired her to become more diplomatic, and how it has helped her voice out her team’s sentiments at work. We’ve learned so much from our interview and we’re sure you’d find amazing insights as well


 
 
1.    How does it feel working in an environment that is more male-dominated?

I think the days have gone by where a women’s job and men’s job are stereotyped. Women are also
equally capable and able to carry out a man's job just as well.

As females, we also have an innate tendency to want to outshine. Thankfully, gender equality is a norm in SMRT. Everyone shares the workload and credits. For example, we attend to train faults together regardless whether male or female.
There’s no such thing as, I dominate you or you dominate me. We don’t need to dominate each other.


2.    Do you have any tips for women like you, working in a male dominating industry?
 
If you know you have the capability, and you know you can do your job, then just do it. Also, there’s no harm in learning from a male or even a male learning from a female. If you’re able to learn from one another, and if you work together as a team, that’s the most important asset.

Remember, the company doesn’t look at whether you are male or female. The company looks at the productivity at the end of the day. So, work as a team together and you will also be able to find good perks for yourself.


3.    Can you bring us through your daily operations?

The misconception that many has for our job is that we just do customer service, providing directions and greetings at the station, it’s beyond that. We touched people’s lives with our works. We make sure that their safety is not compromised, and we always ensure that the passengers are safe.

We have a lot of things going on daily, apart from the occasional train faults. Sometimes we have passengers who fall off the escalators, and this usually happens to the elderly. Fortunately, we are first aid-trained the elderly appreciated our help. Often, they would not want to go for further treatment,  so we would try to calm them before letting them go.  Nevertheless, we would still advise them to seek further medical assistance.

Other than that, we also have people who press on the emergency stop button accidentally. Once that happens, we have to go to the train and see what’s going on. In fact, we also face situations where people poop in the stations!


4.    Could you share what are some of the perks of working in SMRT?

One of our main perks is that when we go on a holiday, we can truly enjoy a break without having to worry about backlogs.  I take this chance to spend quality time with my family and to relax myself. SMRT does their best to ensure that we have enough manpower to power the operations. That’s a fantastic thing and that’s why many youngsters would like to work in SMRT.

Also, one of the best benefits is we get to transport around Singapore for free! And lastly, working for
SMRT is fun, everyday is like a brand new learning experience for me and that’s already a perk itself.


5.    How has COVID-19 affected your work?

When COVID-19 started, it was a little frightening because we come in contact with a lot of commuters daily and there is a high risk of getting infected ourselves.

During this tough period, many kind commuters have came forward to express their appreciation and cheered us on. In fact, I think commuters have become more courteous and friendly. I think everyone knows how tough this perod can be, I just want to let you know that all the little 'Stay Safe, Take Care!' notes and encouragement have kept each one of us going!

As with all service sectors, there were of course times when we encounter rude and rowdy commuters, and some refused to adhere to the safe distancing guidelines. But our staff always try our best to handle such situations. We all want to provide a comfortable travelling experience for all our commuters!

There are of course incidents where people genuinely forgot to wear their masks, some of us actually voluntarily prepared extra masks with us so that we can offer to those in need. It is little touches like this that make our Singapore society such a closely knitted one.


6.    What do you do as a union leader and how long have you been volunteering at Young NTUC?

I just started serving as a union leader at the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU) at the start of COVID-19. I am still figuring my way around and getting involved in different areas of union work. I was also fortunate to be a part of this programme by Young NTUC called the LIT XChange where we helped to advise fresh graduates on their job search journey.

Many youths who are graduating this year have mentioned that the job search journey has been disheartening, as such being able to help them through this event has been a very meaningful one for me.

 

On the union front, I have been involved in negotiations. As we all know, this has been a challenging year, and many companies may not be giving out bonuses to their employees. As a union leader, I am happy that we managed to work together with our employers to negotiate a fair enough bonus for my fellow co-workers.


7.    Since you started volunteering at Young NTUC, how has it helped you?

Young NTUC has really taught me a lot. It broadens my mindset and I really want to continue helping more people. In fact, what I have learned from my fellow young Union Leaders in Young NTUC have given me inspiration on how I can do more in other areas.

For instance, Young NTUC organises a lot of talks and industry insights sessions where special guests are invited to share on resources youth can reach out to. At the same time, through the sharing, it also helps one broaden their perspectives. I myself have benefited from their sessions, and having access to these resources have made me a walking encyclopedia for my friends! I am glad I am able to share these useful knowledge I have picked up with them. 

If I were to mention one key skills I have learned, that will be people skills. I have realised how important it is to be able to communicate and engage with fellow peers effectively.

8.    What are some of the tips you have when it comes to negotiation?

Always remember to have a healthy negotiation with your management. It has to come from the heart. Be diplomatic, be smart, be assertive and you will probably be able to get what you want at the end.

When you’re fighting for something, you have to give a little bit of A, push it little with a B and at the end of the day, both of you have to come up with a conclusion, which is the C. It has to be practical, and I think my company reciprocated a good deal with us.
 
Remember to maintain a good relationship with the management. Our bond with them has to be a long term one because it will benefit our workers.


9.    What keeps you motivated in volunteering?

I love volunteering because I wanted to go above and beyond. I chose to be the one who can voice out my opinions. We only have one lifetime, so make use of our ability to voice out. This is why I chose to come forward and help everyone.


10.    Can you share what you would want to be remembered of?

I would love to be remembered for how I fought for my workers. I don’t need them to remember every single thing I did, but I just want them to know that I will always have their back.


11.    Please help to complete the sentence, “To me, Young NTUC”

To me, Young NTUC has inspired not just me, but other youths as well.

Young NTUC is very encouraging and has brought me to a different level. I wish I can work more with them in the future. They are really grooming the leaders of tomorrow, developing youths to be ever ready to tackle problems and situations. They are there to help them out and I think that’s very inspirational itself.

I really believe that everyone should know about Young NTUC, that it is not just a group of youths who have fun activities, but one that focuses on the holistic development of youths. I will do what I can to spread the word around.