18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
My Uncle, My Inspiration

When Muhamad Fadil Abu Bakar first met his wife and family, he was also introduced to her uncle. The affable 33-year-old recounts: “He used to remind me that the Labour Movement is responsible for the cordial relationship between the unions and management.”

Recalling those words, Fadil joined the Singapore Airport Terminal Services Workers’ Union (SATSWU) when he started working in SATS as a customer service agent in 2001. In 2010, Fadil became a union representative to take on a more active role in SATSWU. Now, it is Fadil’s turn to share insights on his union journey to inspire others.

Knowing employment rights
“I frequently visited her uncle’s home in my younger days and through conversations with him, I found out that he used to be an active unionist. Unfortunately, he passed on a few years ago. I remembered he was extremely supportive when I raised the subject of becoming a union representative. He emphasised the importance of youngsters entering this domain so that labour knowledge can be passed on to the next generation.

Besides his influence, I was genuinely interested to learn about the essential rights of workers because I feel that if workers are aware of their rights they will be more confident and better able to execute their jobs.”

Flexing his muscles
“Due to the nature of my job – training newcomers to be operationally ready – I get to meet and greet new colleagues. Hence, I am able to reach out and rouse their union interests. Should they have queries, I’ll do my best to answer. I believe that one should be legitimately aware and interested in becoming a union member; I don’t want to force anyone to sign up.

Besides recruiting new members, I am also keen on sports. Hence I am part of SATSWU Sports Committee, which organises the annual Sports Meet. Our members are usually game to take part in soccer, bowling and sepak takraw. The management has been supportive as the platform has helped to increase morale among the staff.”

Helping is a privilege
“If you are passionate about something, you will make time for it – an enthusiastic musician will play the guitar all day to improve his dexterity. I believe it starts from the individual and it is up to you to make time and know how to strike a balance. Of course, I have to thank my wife for being supportive of my union commitments too.

In these two years I’ve received a lot of exposure; especially when I meet with the Young NTUC Committee and understand how other industries do their union work. All these have boosted my confidence as a youth chairman and shaped me to be a better Generation Y representative.

It is extremely heart-warming to know members have benefitted from being part of the union. At the end of the day, I hope I’ve helped my colleagues and members in a positive way. I am contented as long as I have lent a helping hand to someone in need.”