Photo by Jonathan Tan
Story By Ramesh Subbaraman
You may have unknowingly spoken to her over the phone on one of those occasions when things go wrong with the internet connection.
Meet 31-year-old Singtel Team Leader Priyalata Pillay, one of the many voices behind the phone taking care of your issues.
For Priyalata, volunteering in union work has always been an extension of the listening ear she provides to irate customers.
She likes to listen in on what unions are doing to help workers so that she can recommend fresh ideas to colleagues at the Union of Telecoms Employees of Singapore (UTES).
Priyalata has been a UTES member for the past three years.
Journey in Young NTUC
However, she is relatively new in Young NTUC, having joined in February 2017.
One of her first events was the Young NTUC Workplan Seminar at Ho Chi Minh City in March 2017.
“I met many young union leaders and found out how they dealt with members’ issues, especially grievances. The trip also gave me a chance to understand Singapore’s role in regional development and how one can prepare for the opportunities in the future,” shared Priyalata.
On the ground, volunteering has brought her closer to low-income families and the youth.
While she got to know their needs, it also gave her the chance to reach out to fellow young workers to join the union movement.
“Volunteering is for no financial gain but to the benefit another person or organisation. It also develops skills and improves the quality of life. I am very fortunate that I have a very fulfilled life, a good job, a great family, and friends. I think that in the current world where a lot of emphasis is put on money, career and status, there is a risk that people can become totally self-absorbed and uncaring.
“Volunteering for me is an opportunity to give something back to society and a way of sharing with others. I wish to help more low income-families and the elderly and I hope Young NTUC will incorporate more volunteer work for people like me,” said Priyalata.
Concern For Younger Workers
She also has a few worries for the younger generation of workers.
She shared that those who are not prepared for the future job market have only themselves to blame.
“It is bad news for those who are unprepared for the future and do not update themselves to stay relevant. We need to upgrade our skills every now and then.
“We can attend courses to stay updated. As union members, we can make use of the Union Training Assistance Programme to fund the courses,” said Priyalata.