The expansive Oil, Petrochemical, Energy and Chemical (OPEC) sector often piques the curiosity of many due to its enormity, and 32-year-old Jonathan Chua seeks to illuminate this industry. He aims to share insights into his pivotal role within his company and elaborate his responsibilities as a Youth Union Leader.
Getting into the OPEC sector
Like many other Singaporean youths, Jonathan was eager to enter the job market and embarked on a job search, filing applications across different career portals. His journey eventually led him to The Polyolefin Company (TPC) which specialises in manufacturing thermoplastics—such as polypropylene and polyethylene—used in medical gear, such as syringes, and automotive parts.
Over at the Jurong Island, where TPC’s factories are located, Jonathan manages product operations, safety, and Health, Safety and Environment activities. Initially unaccustomed to the grueling 12-hour shift works, he took a mere two months to get into the groove and acclimatise to the demands.
Joining the Union
Six months into his tenure at TPC, Jonathan joined the United Workers of Petroleum Industry (UWPI), the union responsible for safeguarding the interests of workers who are employed in petroleum, petro-chemical and allied industries in Singapore.
Recognising his potential, the union eventually pushed for him to participate in many of Young NTUC’s events, where he gets to mingle with likeminded young union leaders, youths and other industry veterans.
For instance, prior to the launch of Young NTUC’s flagship Lit DISCOvery, Jonathan has had the opportunity to interact and glean from more than 10,000 youths on their work-life aspirations. Representing UWPI, he also got to cross shoulders with fellow union leaders at the NTUC’s National Delegates’ Conference 2023 where he actively participated in conversations that will help chart the Labour Movement’s goals for the future.
Through these engagements, he understood the role unions play in advocating for workers’ rights. Five years after he joined TPC, Jonathan eventually became a Youth Union Leader. Initially, his role centered on advocating for the youth, newcomers, and Professionals, Managers, and Executives (PMEs) within TPC, ensuring their voices resonated within the committee.
Over time, Jonathan's commitment and dedication elevated his position within the union, leading him to his current role as the youth chairperson of UWPI. In this capacity, he actively engages with the younger workers, fostering a platform where their concerns, ideas, and aspirations are heard and addressed within the organization.
Voicing out the Issues
Jonathan has always recognised the distinct desires and perspectives of young PMEs and youths. Within UWPI's Youth Wing, these diverse viewpoints take center stage during meetings. Notably, young PMEs are increasingly prioritising achieving a healthier work-life balance or are seeking greater flexibility in their work arrangements. These discussions have spurred improvements in working conditions.
Moreover, Jonathan observed another pressing issue among the youth—anxiety fueled by the pervasive influence of social media. The pervasive trend of comparing oneself to peers intensifies pressure, leading to faster burnout rates as individuals strive for greater success. These issues resonated deeply with Jonathan, prompting him to vocalize these concerns and actively advocate for necessary changes within the organisation.
Being a Leader
Jonathan encourages young workers with ideas or perspectives to consider joining the respective work unions. Within the union, members are offered a platform to engage in dialogues with company management, addressing pertinent issues. Such insights are essential in driving these discussions forward, bringing necessary attention to matters crucial to the evolving workforce.
For those interested in or already leading within the union, Jonathan offers valuable advice. He emphasizes the significance of unwavering belief in one's endeavors and self-confidence. Actively engaging with diverse individuals broadens horizons, providing fresh viewpoints. Lastly, taking the initiative to vocalize concerns and advocate for change is pivotal, as your understanding of your colleagues' experiences positions you as a catalyst for meaningful improvements.