By Naseema Banu Maideen
Additional Reporting by Tommy Lin (Principal Consultant, NTUC Unit for Contract and Casual Workers)
There was a time when he was not aware of his statutory benefits; and that was also a time when he did not receive Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions. He had a low income of $500 as a factory packer with little skills. This used to be the work life of Mr Tay Thiat Hock.
But today, Mr Tay, 61, leads a better life, having earned better skills to land a better paying job and has even improved in conversational English. In May 2009, he found a job as a contract school cleaner earning $650.
Subsequently, he sought assistance from NTUC’s Unit for Contract and Casual Workers (UCCW), where he was referred to Succedo Maintenance and Services Private Limited to work as a fulltime cleaner with a pay of $750 in August 2010.
The company, which is unionised under Building Construction and Timber Industries
Employees’ Union (BA TU), works closely with the union and UCCW. Through the guidance
from the Labour Movement, the company has corrected its employment practices and provides better welfare for its members. UCCW stepped in to help the company look into the inconsistencies
of CPF payment to its workers in 2008.
Concurrently, UCCW also worked with BA TU to unionise the company in 2009. Said Mr Yu Poh Teck, Managing Director of the company: “As a Chinese-educated businessman, I was not well versed with
Human Resource (HR) and administrative issues. I was unaware of many issues covered in the Employment Act. I am grateful to BATU and UCCW for helping me to correct the HR practices in my company. With proper statutory and welfare benefits given, I am happy to see my employees working harder knowing that they have a progression path in the company.” Mr Yu also provides training opportunities for his workers, who are contracted to work as cleaners in various NTUC FairPrice outlets.
Mr Tay, for instance, has attended several courses. He has completed the Workplace
Literacy and Numeracy course (English for Beginners) and has recently aced two Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Environmental Cleaning Courses. Upon completing another two more courses, he will become a Certified Cleaning Crew, and will then be able to enjoy an income of $800 as recognition of better skills and higher productivity.
“Joining the union through the help of UCCW has benefited me in many ways. I now have a lot of knowledge of cleaning techniques that I can use at work. I also enjoy Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) and it is a bonus that my employer also takes care of my union membership subscription every month,” shared
Mr Yu is just one example of an employer who has been enlightened on good industry practices like the Best Sourcing Initiative (BSI) and the importance of systematic and consistent training for workers. UCCW will continue to work with unions to engage and educate more management partners to build up better careers for workers in the lower-income group.
“UCCW will continue to work closely with unions to enlighten more management partners like Mr Yu of Succedo Maintenance. Enlightening the employers on best and fair practices will go a long way in building up better careers for our low-wage workers in these companies. Through this, the workers could enjoy better
working conditions and will enjoy better incomes and better lives.”
-- Zainudin Nordin, NTUC Unit for Contract and Casual Workers (UCCW) Director