Not too late to contribute

Hai Jin / Photo by Lim Weixiang

I joined MediaCorp straight after my graduation from Business School in NUS in 1983. Back then, the company was still known as the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation. I was with the company for almost 32 years and rose through the ranks to become senior manager, before I was retrenched in the first half of 2015.

For a large part of my career, I did not think much about the union. My perception of the union was that it was concerned mostly with the welfare of the blue collar workers and would not be able to do much for a Professional, Manager and Executive (PME) like myself. Besides, I was not covered by the collective agreement. I had an NTUC card, but that was because I wanted to enjoy the discounts that came with it.

At the end of 2014, Mediacorp underwent a corporate reorganization exercise to be more customer centric ahead of the relocation of its premises from Caldecott to One North at Buona Vista. There was talk among the staff that layoffs were likely. Many of the older staff were worried about their positions.

SUBE (The Singapore Union of Broadcastining Employees) organized a series of lunch talks to educate its members. I attended the talk by Mr Patrick Tay (NTUC’s Assistant Secretary General and Director of PME Unit) on PME representation as well as redundancies, redeployment and re-employment. It was a frank and open session which really helped to change my opinion of the union. I asked a lot of questions, for example, about market practices when companies lay off workers, and the replies from Patrick and the union helped to clarify a lot of my doubts. I was heartened to discover that NTUC and SUBE were working to make the workplace better for PMEs like myself. The session was a real eye opener for me because I also gained an insight into the work SUBE did behind the scenes to fight for the rights of workers. In fact, I was so convinced that I was exploring how I could play a bigger part by working with the union leaders to improve the workplace for my fellow workers. However, my retrenchment notice came.

My experience with the retrenchment process further reiterated the importance of the union’s work. To secure favorable benefits for the laid-off workers like myself, SUBE held numerous rounds of talks with the management before agreeing on a compensation package that was in my opinion a very fair deal. It took into account all my years of contribution to the company. Of course, there was sadness because I was saying goodbye to a place and colleagues who were a large part of my life for many years, but the compensation package made sure I was not in any immediate financial hardship and it has actually helped me to advance my retirement plans.

I am really grateful to SUBE and my only regret is that I only came to know about the good work of the union so late in my career. Even though I am no longer with the company, I continue to be a strong advocate for the union and encourage PMEs to join the union.








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