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Love in this Club

2 months ago / ntuc / worklifesg

What would Choo do for you?

Not this kinda club lol. Read on!

I was talking to Smith one fine evening when he said,

22:14 Smithankyou cause ah tbh
22:14 Smithankyou the masses can't really understand what exactly is the "labour movement" nor what exactly the union does

Which basically means ah,


But seriously, NTUC is really more than just Fairprice. In fact, I was just grumbling to the hubs when we were doing our weekly grocery shopping that,


Do you even see NTUC stamped with Fairprice?

So back to what exactly does NTUC aka the Labour Movement and its unions does for the people of Singapore... I'll use what happened recently with the AREU (Attractions, Resorts & Entertainment Union) and Jurong Country Club as an illustration.


Yah I know it's in Chinese but have no fear, Flora is here.

For a start, a trade union is an organisation of workers who have come together to protect each other such as by improving safety standards, achieving higher pay and benefits and better working conditions. There are a total of 60 NTUC-Affiliated Unions and 2 affiliated Associations in Singapore and one such union is the AREU or Attractions, Resorts & Entertainment Union.


Now, the story turns to Jurong Country Club... which is well, a country club in Jurong.

It was (finally) unionised in late 2013 after a secret ballot that the union won with a decisive result.

In May 2015, it was announced that the Club will be closing on Dec 31 2016 to make way for the terminus of the new Singapore-Malaysia high-speed rail and a mixed-use development, comprising offices, hotels, retail outlets and residences.

With the news of the closure, the union had been keeping close contact with the management, the branch officials and the union members ever since.

Pauses story here to explain about Collective Agreement:


A Collective Agreement (CA) is an agreement made between an employer and a trade union of employees on the terms and conditions of employment for the employees.

This CA is the outcome of negotiation between the parties, and reflects the expectations and concerns of each party. It gives certainty to the employer and employees on their respective rights and obligations by specifying the categories of employees covered, the duration of the agreement and the grievance procedure. The terms typically covered include working hours, rest days; termination of employment; salary and bonuses; annual and sick leave; and medical benefits.

So back to Jurong Country Club...

What's to happen to the workers then?!

There was no existing Collective Agreement (CA), and drafting one became the top priority to ensure a fair compensation for the workers especially since retrenchment is REAL?! You guys read about Double Negative's sudden closure and how some peeps lost their jobs overnight (like, really over ONE night) cause they weren't even given notice and were let go on the same day? And more recently Cisco announced its laying off 14,000 employees - no doubt this is in the US lah, but we live in a globalised economy, no?

So it was hence imperative that the CA was drafted!

And finally, after countless meetings and discussions, the management of JCC and the union eventually came to an agreement on 9 June 2016 that was reasonable and fair to both parties.

If you're interested, the retrenchment clause in the CA stated:

  • Half month per year of service for those below 2 years of service
  • One month per year of service for those 2 years and above (capped at 25 years)

And also included a training grant of $1,500 and union membership subsidy of 1 year.

The union is now facilitating for training and employment issues and also partnering with e2i to give the affected workers an environmental scan of the industries where jobs are available, the career progression opportunities, and the training required to upskill them to readily take on alternative employment.

The JCC Management has also given in-principle approval to allow time-off to workers to be trained, as well as to attend interviews nearer to the end date.

Now you must be wondering, why am I writing about this because I obviously don't work at Jurong Country Club (actually right, you never know!) and neither am I a member of the AREU.

Well, because...


Desmond Choo.


I kid... or maybe not.

Who also happens (or maybe not so coincidental :joy:) to be the Executive Secretary of the AREU.

Speaking at the briefing, he detailed the benefits to the staff of JCC (which actually cover more than usual benefits would) and if you didn't already think that he's a nice guy, you would now after this.

You see, there was actually no need for him to be present that day but he went down anyway. Not just for the briefing but sources tell me that he is often working the ground to make sure that things are going okay for the staff.

In fact, they had to split the briefing into two sessions because the theatrette wasn't big enough and he chose to stay for both to speak to all of them.

Additionally, because some of the staff can't understand English, he spoke first in English and then in Mandarin.

To quote this guy,

Today, 9 of 10 staff of JCC are union members and we will not let them down.


So, what happens next?


The IROs (industrial relations officers) have been going down to talk to the workers. After which, they will then sort through the 100+ workers’ forms and try and help. For those industries or jobs with high interest, the union can try and organise a dedicated job fair, or even organise for the recruiting companies to go to JCC to meet with the workers on-site.

It seems that many workers are interested in jobs like bus captains, security officers and in the hotel industry so this info was conveyed to the Employment and Employability Institute e2i and try and organise something for them.

Imagine if they were not unionised?

Because they’re unionised, the union could then step in and discuss with the management on the retrenchment benefits and how to help the workers. There is also more sensitivity and care when dealing with the matter, in addition to ensuring that the workers’ needs are well taken off.

The constant communication and support will also make the whole closure and termination easier to take, rather than to have the workers thrown into the deep end to defend for themselves.

After all, like what Desmond said,

The Labour Movement cares for the workers by ensuring that the affected workers are giving the best of opportunities to find work that they can grow another career with. A fair compensation is important, but the crux is being able to continue to have a meaningful career.