18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
A Tripartite Spirit To Lead The Way

“My journey into the Labour Movement is quite special. It began when I was studying at National University of Singapore and setting up my own stall in the canteen,” shared David Tay.

The a 31-year-old teacher recounted how he started with nEbO and volunteered in the entrepreneurship community and organised a variety of events and talks for youths. “We had no idea how this would turn out to be. It was certainly a heartening moment when we realised that the participation was very fervent and youths were ready to volunteer to organise the next events.”

Six years on, the quality of events has certainly surpassed what David expected. “I always look back with pride when I see how much we have accomplished. I am proud of the team.”

After graduating from university, David continued his Labour Movement journey through the youth wing of Singapore Teachers’ Union (STU), Young STU. “Somehow, there was an affinity and connection with the Labour Movement. I have the passion to help my fellow workers.”

Finding the crux
At the heart of STU, David constantly grapples with a question which non-members always ask: why should I join the union and what can the union do for me. In simplicity, David points out that the Ministry of Education provides many services to assist its employees. Thus, it is a challenge for the union to remain relevant and find innovative ways to add value to the union membership.

To provide a better understanding, Young STU organises a bi-annual Beginning Teachers’ Forum and invite the new graduate of teachers from the National Institute of Education (NIE) to attend. He explained: “At the forum, they learn about their basic rights as teachers and how having a union membership is beneficial for them. We inform them how their performance is being appraised in schools, what determines how well they do and the potential pitfalls they might face. They find such sessions useful and informative. At the end, they tend to realise union membership has its merits – it is value for money and you get the fundamental protection as a union member.”

He added the essence of union is to work together with the employer to provide the best service to employees. “This is the tripartite spirit,” David maintained.

Steering Ahead
Come this October, David will be standing for elections to earn a seat in the STU executive committee. He hopes to gain a deeper understanding of industrial relations and to help fellow workers, with a vision to see everyone progressing together.

Nevertheless, David professed: “Ultimately, I still love my job as a teacher. But having this passion to serve my fellow peers keeps me grounded and connected to the realities of the world.”