TL;DR – Digitalisation changes everything.
The world is changing. We’re undergoing the most disruptive set of changes ever experienced, and these changes will transform everything. The way we work, the way we collaborate, the way we communicate, the way we conduct businesses and go about our everyday stuff.
Yet in a way, everything changes. And yet everything stays the same.
Like in the case of the Union of Security Employees (USE). It recognises that digitalisation will bring about sea change in the industry. The nature of security guarding will also change, but yet, the needs of the security officers stay the same. Fundamentally, workers all want better jobs, better pay and better lives, and they want fair treatment at work.
Union for Security Employees (USE) using technology for member communications
For USE, one positive impact brought about by digitalisation is how there are now more avenues to reach out to and communicate with their members. So with the opportunity presented by technology, they have recently decided to try new ways to reach out to their members, including SMSes, Whatsapp and now, even Facebook Live.
You see, most security officers work six days a week, 12 hours each day. So it’s not easy to find the time to engage them and answer their questions. Their union certainly needs to be innovative.
To that end, the USE recently used Facebook Live to engage its members.
The Facebook Live session that happened last Wednesday (27 Sep) was hosted by a member of USE’s Executive Council, Haji Mohd Khalip Bin Awang and its Industrial Relations Officer (IRO), Kubaren. The topic chosen for this first Facebook Live session is Workplace Grievances.
In the video, the two gentlemen can be seen seen urging the members to send in whatever questions or challenges they faced in the workplace.
We tuned in to the session and learnt some interesting things about what USE does.
1. Getting back unpaid salaries
An issue IRO Kubaren highlighted was where a security company didn’t have enough business on hand. As such, the company told their security officers to go on leave. When the security officers of that company received their payslip that month, they realised that they were actually put on unpaid leave.
The security officers raised the issue with USE, and USE went to clarify matters with the company.
The union pointed out to the company that the company shouldn’t have unilaterally forced their employees to go on unpaid leave without advance notice.
After the negotiations, the company agreed to pay the salaries of the security officers for the period that they were put on (forced) leave, and agreed that they would notify their security officers in advance if there’s a need for the security officers to go on unpaid leave in future.
2. Answering questions from union members
A member asked whether a security officer will receive overtime pay if asked to work on a public holiday. Well, how much pay he or she gets depends on whether the public holiday happens to be the rest day of the security officer.
Another member asked if there’s anything wrong for an employer to pay security officers in cash. Khalip, who is the Assistant General Treasure of USE, explained that while it’s not illegal, it’s not advisable for employers to pay security officers in cash. This is because cash payments makes record-keeping more difficult.
3. Other welfare that USE provides for members
At the end of the session, both the gentlemen Kubaren and Khalip highlighted the other core welfare services that USE provides for its members. These include an insurance scheme, U Stretch vouchers, and education bursaries for the children of its members.
Not so visible, but not less important
It appears that the work of most unions in Singapore isn’t that visible.
Because they don’t march in the streets, protest, and strike.
But the work they do isn’t any less important. And, in many ways, seem to be just as effective in fighting for the welfare of their members without hurting industrial relations.
Let’s hope we don’t have to live to see the day when workers’ grievances cannot be resolved without them taking to the streets.