NTUC wants more youth members

Mr Clarence Ngoh (left), who joined NTUC's junior membership arm nEbO in 2010, is keen on planning charity events and gaining leadership skills. The friendships Mr Ong Ting Swee (right) made when he was a junior member has made the engineer stay on w
Mr Clarence Ngoh (left), who joined NTUC's junior membership arm nEbO in 2010, is keen on planning charity events and gaining leadership skills. The friendships Mr Ong Ting Swee (right) made when he was a junior member has made the engineer stay on with NTUC after graduation.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Junior arm of labour movement aims to attract 20,000 more

Four years ago, Mr Clarence Ngoh did not know much about the labour movement.

But the 20-year-old national serviceman now meets unionists regularly, and even spoke at this year's May Day Rally, the key yearly event of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

"This year's May Day was marked by strikes overseas. But in Singapore, it was peaceful. We have to thank the unionists who spend their time and effort to protect the rights of workers," said Mr Ngoh, who joined the labour movement's junior membership arm nEbO in 2010.

Admitting that he earlier had no idea what tripartism meant, he said his eyes were opened after speaking to NTUC staff and union leaders.

Tripartism here is represented by unionists, employers and the Government working closely together to create good jobs for Singaporeans, he said.

nEbO was set up in 2007 to get young people aged between 12 and 25 to learn about NTUC and encourage them to continue as members when they start work, where they can join social and recreational activities such as running and trekking events.

NTUC counts over 80,000 young people as members, and aims to grow the pool to 100,000 by the end of next year.

Student members get to work with NTUC staff to organise recreational and charitable events such as photography workshops and food donation drives.

They also visit companies and factories, where they get to meet senior management and unionists to find out more about careers they may be interested in.

Mr Ngoh, who will be starting his undergraduate studies at the Singapore Management University later this year, said he likes taking part as he is interested in planning charity events and in gaining leadership skills. He is among more than 200 youth leaders who organise activities for their peers.

One former nEbO member who has stayed on with NTUC after graduating from university is engineer Ong Ting Swee, 26.

One memorable stint as a junior member was when he organised a photography symposium for about 200 students, which helped him to gain confidence, said Mr Ong. "I am an introverted person, but came out of my shell because I needed to meet a lot of people when organising events."

nEbO alignment director Lim Eng Lee said the labour movement encourages more junior members to join, with benefits such as earning LinkPoints when they shop at NTUC-affiliated merchants. They can redeem the points for gifts and vouchers.

Members also get to pick up job interview and entrepreneurship skills through workshops and events.

While these privileges are attractive, Mr Ong said the main reason he has stayed with NTUC is the friendships he has made.

"I still go back and help with nEbO events because I get to meet my friends. It is like going for a big gathering," he added.

ameltan@sph.com.sg