18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
Sea Of Opportunity

Terence Tan has a few interesting plans up his sleeve, like holding an Amazing Race-style event at the Singapore Zoo and an overseas volunteer mission involving bicycle-building for the needy. He also hopes to do his part for the disabled. “We understand that the visually impaired hardly get a chance to experience cycling as a form of exercise, so we thought we’d take them on a tandem bike ride at East Coast Park. They can take the back seat, pedal and enjoy some fresh air.”

As chairman of the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) youth wing, part of the Young NTUC umbrella, Terence’s role is to spearhead activities like the abovementioned for members. Other aspects of the job include enhancing membership by reaching out to young seafarers.

A full-time employee with SMOU, Terence also serves as an Industrial Relations Officer (IRO). A typical workday involves meeting with companies to negotiate collective agreements, visiting members on board vessels and lending an ear to members’ grievances.

Terence embarked on his union journey nine years ago. While working on SMOU’s newsletter, he met seafarers who needed assistance. It struck a chord and he decided to do more to help.

“Before working as an IRO, I was a very straightforward person – everything was either black or white. I realise now that many cases aren’t so clear-cut and that not everything can be easily resolved.”

From Terence’s point of view, the most satisfying thing about being part of Young NTUC is seeing new members coming forward to continue what their seniors have done for the labour movement.

In his spare time, the married 34-year-old collects watches and jogs around his HDB neighbourhood. “When I run through the blocks, I often wonder what the occupants’ lives are like. Are they happy? Are they satisfied?” His socially conscious instinct starts kicking in again.