18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
Energizing, Motivating And Inspiring Through Youth Leadership

When I first read Ismadi’s resume before I spoke to him, I’ve got to admit that I was very impressed by his union resume which include his current position as 2nd Assistant General Secretary as well as SSEU-SHELL (Singapore Shell Employees’ Union) rep for Annual Increment negotiations & Collective Agreement Negotiations, SSEU rep in Pulau Bukom HSSE, SSEU rep in OPEC clusters, Chairman for Sports and Recreational Committee.

And when I spoke to him, I was even more impressed. He was articulate, confident and eloquent, and most importantly, he spoke about his union work with such passion and conviction, I could practically feel him beaming through the phone.

This coming from someone who says he had joined the union only cause he was arrowed to do so. Back in 2010, as a Process Technician at Shell’s Pulau Bukom Refinery, because of the Union's constitution to have 1 representative for his shift team, he was strongly encouraged to join the SSEU (Singapore Shell Employees Union).

What started as an obligation soon turned into a 5-year (and counting!) stint where he has served in the exco as well as organized several events for union members such as dinners & dances, family days and prawning activities.

All these union work he does goes above and beyond his day job (which comes in a rather demanding shift cycle) and juggling his responsibilities as Super Dad with two girls and a third one on the way.

Did I mention that he is only 34 years old? Contrary to common misconception that union work is usually undertaken only by older folks, we now see more youths across various sectors stepping up to take up union work and contributing back to the Labour Movement.

When I asked him what’s the most impressionable thing he has done in his union so far, without hesitation he’d answered – the Collective Agreement Negotiations 2014/ 2016. Ismadi explained that this was a long-drawn process that was quite taxing as there were quite a few issues that could not be resolved. But they thankfully did after 6 months of negotiation with the company. Ismadi says, “For the first time in my life, I finally understood why people don’t want ride or drive to meetings because we would be simply too exhausted to make our way home safely.”

Despite all these, Ismadi is glad that he has managed to receive various exposure from his union leadership (that he perhaps would not be able to get elsewhere). He mentions that union activities has broadened his horizon and helped him to interact and present himself better. In fact, because of the opportunity to meet and collaborate with workers from other refineries, the synergizing of ideas has helped Ismadi in his work too. He was also recently involved with the National Delegates’ Conference as an Observer.

A truly inspirational man, when I asked Ismadi what are his plans moving forward, he replied that he aspires to encourage more youths to join Young NTUC and to partake more in union activities. He also wishes to groom the next batch of union leaders and to pass on what he has learned to the next generation. In his words,

“I hope to be able to inspire the next union leader to follow in my footsteps to step up to the challenge.”