Collectively, WE Strive for Progress

Grace Yang, Assistant Director, Human Resource at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre (Photo by Lim Weixiang)

I have been a HR Practitioner with Suntec Singapore for 10 years now.  Suntec Singapore has been unionised since 1997 but my working relationship with Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees’ Union (BATU) started in 2012, after a corporate reorganisation where I was tasked to lead the HR team, together with the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Arun Madhok.

During the days of the major overhaul, we were unable to host any events for close to eight months. While the renovation was ongoing, employees were moved out of the Centre and assigned to temporary offices. At the same time, changes to the management team meant more adjustments for all the employees and staff morale was a concern. As the newly appointed HR lead, it became my responsibility to meet up with the Union Branch Committee to address these issues collectively.

At the start, we had differing opinions when handling these concerns. Fortunately, we soon realised that we were on the same team and our goals were aligned. This led to better communication and dialogue sessions.  It was important that both parties did not take an antagonistic approach and this helped us to work towards our common objective of treating everyone with fairness and compassion.

Eventually, we found the chemistry to establish a good working relationship and were able to agree on a winning outcome for both the management and the workers.

There were no lay-offs or reduction in salaries, instead employees were sent for training and exchange programmes to ensure that they stayed motivated and engaged. This gave them a renewed purpose and we were able to improve staff morale and loyalty. We were able to listen to our workers and make changes that put their best interests at the fore. As a result, our staff morale has never been higher, with many of our workers always willing to go the extra mile for our clients.

Last year, Suntec Singapore and BATU negotiated and concluded the Collective Agreement for another 3 years with enhanced terms and conditions for the bargainable workforce. The strong commitment and enthusiasm in completing this negotiation efficiently and the cordial relations between both parties are really something that I am proud to share with everyone!

That was just the beginning of our close relationship. Encouraged by my Chief Executive Officer, I decided to look at more initiatives that can benefit the staff, particularly the mature workforce. BATU introduced initiatives by NTUC and recommended that we should look at Workpro. We took on this initiative, benefitting 47.5% of our employees from this programme. I am excited to work on continuing these initiatives and constantly look for and explore new ways to improve processes, productivity and well-being of the workforce.

Jointly, we believe in constant engagement and communication with the employees.  As a HR practitioner in a multi-generation workforce environment, working together with BATU to organise staff activities, communication sessions and staff parties such as festive celebrations.

I hope to move the Labour Management Relations forward, building on our strong ties with BATU and continue working on meaningful projects for Team Suntec.








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