Forging Ahead: From Employee to Union Leader

   Starting out as a maintenance supervisor in 2001, and rising through the ranks to becoming a General Manager a decade later, enjoying the impeccable staff benefits that came with the job… You could say that Mr Tan, who worked at a chemical company, had it all.

   However, things started to change when the firm decided to restructure the company in 2012. A year later, the company’s human resource (HR) manager was asked to leave — without a compensation package. The firm’s senior team, when inquired, had not been forthcoming to Mr Tan with their decision. Mr Tan then realised this was beyond his control and he could no longer help or protect those under him from getting retrenched. This was a wake-up call for Mr Tan to take action.

   Mr Tan encouraged his fellow employees to form a union. Discussions were held with Industrial Relations Officers from the Chemical Industries Employees’ Union (CIEU) in April 2013. Despite initial reservations by the firm’s senior team, a branch under the CIEU was formed by his colleagues in July 2013.

   In August 2013, Mr Tan was finally discharged from the company with four other colleagues. However, with the CIEU’s help, all five employees were justly compensated. CIEU, together with NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) even offered employment assistance for them.

   Mr Tan was grateful for CIEU’s help and was happy to play a part protecting the interests of other PMEs and his staff, saying that his “goal was to ensure that the workers were not short-changed after their years of dedication and hard work”.










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