Your rights at work – how do you unionise a company?
The article below is adapted from an article by the Singapore Industrial & Service Employee’s Union
In September 2014, the Singapore Industrial & Services Employee’s Union (SISEU) received a call from a worker seeking advice on certain unfair practices at his workplace. Upon further verification, the union realised that the company, which operates in the aerospace industry with 200 plus staff, may not be treating the workers fairly.
But this company wasn’t unionised, so how was SISEU supposed to step in to help the workers? The union can’t barge its way in, it wouldn’t be legitimate.
SISEU then began to serve a claim on recognition on the company. In short, to unionise them.
The claim started, but the management did not respond despite repeated attempts to contact them. The company’s headquarters based overseas did not have a union and they were not ready to have a union in Singapore.
Logo of the Singapore Industrial & Services Employee’s Union
Anti-union practices are illegal in Singapore. Part 9 of the Industrial Relations Act makes it illegal to prevent someone to join or to resign from a trade union, or to discriminate against members of a trade union.
The company cannot stop unions from organising them, but they can simply ignore or delay one from being formed.
Undeterred, SISEU requested for a secret ballot to be arranged and did so via the Ministry of Manpower. The union eventually secured a majority vote support from the workers.
“I realised that many workers in Singapore are still unfamiliar with their employment rights. Many simply accept whatever is given to them by their employers and choose to suffer in silence. Some are afraid to speak out against their employers, fearing it would cost them their job”, said Clarice Wong, an Industrial Relations Officer with SISEU.
Whilst the 59 unions in Singapore are busy with organising people, getting people to join as members and working to convince employers to allow for unionisation… if you feel that your company should be unionised, why not get in touch with them?
The arbitration court is a unions choice of action in the event of deadlock