NTUC to offer members counselling to deal with Covid-19 challenges

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng (second from right) and assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari (right) with two beneficiaries of the NTUC Care Fund (Covid-19), Mr Wong Wai Hong and Mr Ismail Bakar. The fund provides up to $300 cash relief to m
NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng (second from right) and assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari (right) with two beneficiaries of the NTUC Care Fund (Covid-19), Mr Wong Wai Hong and Mr Ismail Bakar. The fund provides up to $300 cash relief to members in need.PHOTO: NATIONAL TRADES UNION CONGRESS

Union members stressed by the pandemic and job situation can soon receive psychological help to deal with the challenges.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) will be offering one-to-one counselling services to lower-income union members as well as those whose incomes have been significantly reduced.

"Experiencing sudden or great distress due to work-related circumstances may take a tremendous toll on workers' mental well-being," NTUC said yesterday.

"This is especially so for those who have heavy personal responsibilities, such as caregivers, as well as those who have young and/or elderly dependants."

NTUC, which is partnering psychological centre Mind Culture in the programme, said more details will be made known in March.

The counselling service is part of a series of assistance programmes supported by the NTUC-U Care Fund, which was started in 2009 to help NTUC union members affected by the economic downturn then.

"Similarly, more than 10 years on, we are pledging our utmost commitment to help our members through the challenges brought upon by Covid-19," said NTUC assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari.

Close to 100 donors contributed to the fund last year, allowing NTUC to commit $31.5 million to better the welfare of lower-income members and their families.

The labour movement said it had disbursed more than $16 million to about 33,000 members as at Dec 18, to help members impacted by Covid-19.

This was done through the NTUC Care Fund (Covid-19), which was launched in March last year. It provides up to $300 cash relief to members whose incomes have been significantly affected by Covid-19.

Among them was Mr Wong Wai Hong, 48, an audio-visual technician who was retrenched by Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre in September.

The married father of two was referred to the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees' Union, which helped him apply for the relief. He received $600 in two payments.

"After I was retrenched, I felt lost and worried for my family.

"I'm grateful that I received the cash relief to cover my family's basic necessities and children's school expenses to tide us over this period," said Mr Wong.

Other programmes include the U Care Education Co-Funding scheme, which has given bursary awards to 4,500 children.

Around 300 low-to medium-income union members also received interim support from the CapitaLand-U Care Resilience and Enablement Fund (CAP+Ure).

It provides $250 in FairPrice vouchers per child to help families with their children's basic nutritional and educational needs.

NTUC said members can still apply for CAP+Ure support.

Applications for the NTUC Care Fund (Covid-19) are also still open. The closing date is Feb 28.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2021, with the headline 'NTUC to offer members counselling to deal with Covid-19 challenges'. Subscribe