SINGAPORE Press Holdings' (SPH) two in-house unions are planning to merge, in the first step towards creating an industry-wide union for the publishing and creative media sector.
With a larger membership, the new amalgamated union would have more resources and leverage, said SPH Employees' Union (SPHEU) president David Teo.
SPH's journalists are now represented by the Singapore National Union of Journalists (SNUJ), and its other employees by SPHEU.
But from Aug 24 to 27, a secret ballot will be held on whether both should merge to form an industrial union, rather than stay as in-house unions of SPH.
"When you have a bigger union, when there's more representation, the benefit is quite obvious," said Mr Teo. "There's more bargaining power and you can help to set industry norms." It would also mean a bigger pool of resources to help members, for instance by providing bursaries or scholarships, he added.
Tenatively to be called the Publishing and Creative Media Union, the new union will seek members from online media firms too. Staying print-only would make the union "a dinosaur", said Mr Teo.
SPHEU has more than 1,000 members while SNUJ has fewer than 100 members.
Said SNUJ general secretary Mindy Kwok: "As the industry is constantly evolving... the union is exploring possibilities to better serve its members and potential members."
SPH declined to comment on the potential merger.
Another source of members could be the printing industry. Some such workers now belong to the Singapore Industrial and Services Employees' Union. General secretary Lim Kuang Beng said the union has had no contact with the SPH ones but would be open to discussions.
Two other in-house unions in the media sector are the Reuters Local Employees Union and the Times Publishing Group Employees' Union.
Workers in broadcasting media are represented by an industrial union, the Singapore Union of Broadcasting Employees.
National Trades Union Congress secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said the proposed union may even represent freelancers in the industry.
She noted that similar union restructuring in the education, health and attractions sectors created industry unions that were stronger in terms of voice, management expertise and resources.
This article was first published on August 15, 2014.
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