Getting Back on Both Feet With Help From Family, Company and Union

Balakrishnan Tamilvanan

Riding home from work to his wife and four kids was the only thing he could remember before waking up in hospital a week after his accident in 2009.

A victim of a motorcycle accident, Balakrishnan Tamilvanan, then 40, suffered from major cranial injuries, which required facial reconstruction.

He was hospitalised for a month and spent many days in and out of the hospital for follow-up appointments.

“There was this time last year whereby a screw came loose and fell out through my eye!” he said with a grin while gesturing with his finger around his left eye socket.

Though still bearing the scars from that fateful accident back in 2009, Balakrishnan is still positive and contented.

“I am just really grateful to my company, friends and neighbours who helped my family and me through those difficult times,” he said.

Life After the Accident

Balakrishnan spent another two months recuperating at home. Headaches were frequent, and he also suffered from double vision in the corner of his left eye.

Balakrishnan’s doctor told him to take things easy when he first went back to work. While he understood the need to take things slow, the need to ensure that his family had food on the table weighed heavily in his heart.

To make matters worse, he could neither perform long strenuous tasks nor clock in additional overtime hours. Overtime hours previously helped Balakrishnan double his basic salary.

New Role

Not wanting him to struggle with machining work in the factory, Balakrishnan’s general manager offered him a deskbound role as a purchasing officer.

“It was a very steep learning curve for me,” he explained. “I was so used to doing machine work that the switch to paperwork was quite daunting. But I appreciated my company’s offer, and I knew I just had to do it.”

He also signed himself up for enrichment courses that he felt were beneficial to his new role, including a leadership course at the Ong Teng Chong Labour Leadership Institute.

Getting a Helping Hand

As Balakrishnan is a union member, the Chemical Industries Employee’s Union (CIEU) also kept a close tab on his case.

Over the next few years, he and his family benefited from CIEU’s education grant, the union’s charity initiative called Gift from the Heart and NTUC’s U Stretch and Back-to-School vouchers.

The Present

Ten years have passed since the accident and his two eldest daughters, 18 and 16, are now studying in a local polytechnic and junior college respectively. His sons, 14 and 12, are also doing well in school.

Having to worry less for his children, Balakrishnan now wants to start giving back to the community. He actively volunteers at the local Resident Committee as well as at the Singapore Tamil Movement. He finds immense joy in helping and interacting with others who are less fortunate.

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