4 unions in Singapore you may not know about

Singapore - Labour Movement

Unions are our eyes and ears on the ground. 

Unions in Singapore play an important role in protecting the rights of workers. They help to ensure that employees receive fair wages and working conditions, and that they are not subjected to discrimination or exploitation. They also provide a forum for workers to voice their grievances and negotiate with employers. 

In Singapore, we have The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) at the heart of the Labour Movement, which comprises 58 affiliated unions, seven affiliated associations, 12 social enterprises, six related organisations as well as a growing ecosystem of U Associates and enterprise partners.

Here are four unions that you may not have heard about – 

The National Transport Workers Union

The National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) represents workers from the transport industry. Without these workers, commuters would not be able to get to our destinations at a reasonable cost and on time.  These workers ensure that the city’s transport system runs smoothly and efficiently. 

It has 43 branches, with SBS Transit, SMRT Corporation, Jurong Port, and ComfortDelgro Group making up the largest member base. Bus drivers, truck drivers, maintenance technicians, train officers, and MRT station officers are examples of the significant membership groups.

General Secretary Fang Chin Poh, 62, was recognised for his four-decade-long union efforts, at 2021’s May Day Awards. He was recognised for helping transport workers retain their jobs at the height of the pandemic and helping Malaysian transport workers with their accommodation in Singapore, due to border closures.

Singapore Port Workers’ Union

Registered in 1946, the Singapore Port Workers’ Union (SPWU) is one of the country’s oldest trade union. SPWU represents workers of the PSA International, one of the world’s busiest port. 

SPWU was formerly known as the Singapore Harbour Board Staff Association. It has about 8,500 members and represents almost 90 percent of all bargainable port workers in PSA. 

The union often provides input for equipment design or specifications with regards to how it may impact PSA employees’ well-being on site at work.

Singapore Teachers’ Union

The Singapore Teachers’ Union (STU) started in 1946 and is the largest teachers’ union here. It represents the needs of more than 14,000 teachers.

Mike Thiruman is currently the General Secretary of STU, having been with the union for 27 years. Younger teachers, says Thiruman in an article, desire more work-life balance due to their multiple duties and heavy workload.

In August, teachers received a 5 to 10 percent increase in their salaries – partly thanks to the effort of STU in providing ground feedback to the Ministry of Education. 

Food Drinks and Allied Workers’ Union (FDAWU) 

Representing 55,000 workers, Food Drinks and Allied Workers’ Union (FDAWU) is led by General Secretary Tan Hock Soon, who joined the union in 1985. 

In 2021, FDAWU unionised local bakery brand Twelve Cupcakes. The move came after the bakery’s former owner plead guilty to underpaying seven foreign employees $100,000 in a course of nearly three years.

FDAWU moved to unionise the bakery group, with Mr Tan noting that the union wanted to represent employees, as well as educate management about fair hiring practices and their responsibilities in creating a conducive and productive environment for their employees. 

The decision to unionise came after FDAWU won majority votes from the workers of Twelve Cupcakes. The win signifies the workers’ desire for the union to represent their welfare and work prospect needs. resounding victory reaffirms the workers’ desire for the union to improve their welfare and work prospects.

You can view the full list of unions at this link.

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