NTUC to provide psychological, financial aid to members stressed by Covid-19 pandemic

(From left) Mr Wong Wai Hong, Mr Ismail Bin Bakar, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng and NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and Director of NTUC Care and Share Department Zainal Sapari.
(From left) Mr Wong Wai Hong, Mr Ismail Bin Bakar, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng and NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and Director of NTUC Care and Share Department Zainal Sapari.PHOTO: NTUC

SINGAPORE - Union members stressed by the Covid-19 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," said the labour movement in a statement on Thursday (Jan 7).

"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.

"Such worries may continue as the economy takes a K-shaped recovery in 2021 and beyond."

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.

"NTUC-U Care Fund 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 Mr Zainal Sapari, NTUC assistant secretary-general and director of NTUC Care and Share Department.

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

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

This was done through the NTUC Care Fund (Covid-19), which was launched in March 2020.

It provides up to $300 cash relief to union members whose incomes have been significantly affected by Covid-19.

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

The 48-year-old was referred by his former employer to the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees' Union, which helped him apply for the relief.

The father of two received $600 in two payments.

He said: "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 over this period."

Other programmes include the U Care Education Co-Funding scheme, which has provided education 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 NTUC FairPrice vouchers per child to help families tide over their children's basic nutritional and educational needs.

In its statement, NTUC said members can still apply for CAP+Ure support.

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