The NTUC Union Membership Programme: Is it Worth $117 A Year?
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The NTUC Union Membership Programme: Is it Worth $117 A Year?

Rebecca Liew
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I’ve something of an embarrassing confession.

Up till I’d begun researching for this piece, I didn’t have a hot damn clue what the acronym NTUC* stood for – much less the fact that it’s Singapore’s sole trade union centre. Are you judging me, now?

Eye-rolling
Source: tenor
*FYI: It’s short for National Trades Union Congress.

What I had known, however, was my mum’s staunch support for all things NTUC: the NTUC Plus! card, LinkPoints, the myriad of insurance policies under NTUC Income, the fact that members enjoy decent dividends and cash rebates.

In itself, NTUC presently has over 950,000 members. That’s around 5% of Singapore’s population forking out $117 annually for the NTUC Membership Programme.

Is it worth your money, though? We take a closer look at its ecosystem of benefits and programmes.


TL;DR: Is NTUC Union Membership Worth The $117 Annual Fee?

NTUC Membership

Membership Types and Fees

As we’ve established, NTUC membership costs $117 annually – or $9 monthly from January to November, and $18 in December itself. Fees are deducted through interbank GIRO.

To successfully sign up, you’ll first need to:

  • Be over 16 years of age
  • Have a valid NRIC/FIN

However, it isn’t open to personnel from the Singapore Police Force, Singapore Prison Service, Auxiliary Police bodies (including Certis Cisco, Aetos and SATS) or foreign domestic workers.

Union members are split into either Ordinary Branch (OB) or General Branch (GB) membership.

You’ll automatically fall under the GB member category if your workplace has no union, meaning you’re in a position with no bargaining power.

That means you don’t get representation rights in the workplace – whether for wage negotiations or workplace issues – whereas OB members do. But more on this in a bit.

NTUC’S nEbO Membership

As an aside, students or non-working adults aged between 12 to 25 are also eligible for something called nEbO membership.

The lifestyle club sits under the youth membership arm of NTUC, and offers discounts on food, entertainment and enrichment courses, to name several.


NTUC Union Membership Benefits

Here’s what falls under the membership programme:

  • NTUC Plus! Rewards Programme and Cards
  • Dividends and Cash Rebates
  • NTUC Members-Only Insurance Policies
  • Voucher Programmes
  • Representation and Legal Advice
  • U Network
  • Career Growth Opportunities and Advice

You’ll also find a more comprehensive overview of discounts, events and the like on the MyNTUC app.

The MyNTUC app

NTUC Plus! Rewards Programme and Cards

Upon signing up as an NTUC member, you’ll automatically be added to the Plus! Rewards Programme, which includes two cards:

  • The Plus! Card 
  • The NTUC Plus! Card

Plus! Visa Card

Despite their (very confusing) names, they’re in fact quite different.

It’s really quite simple to differentiate them, though: the black Plus! card doesn’t require you to be an NTUC member; conversely, the silver NTUC Plus! card does. 

 Plus! CardNTUC Plus! Card
EligibilityNo age limit
> 18 years old
No minimum income
FeesOne-time $10 membership (or free if you apply through the Plus! mobile app)$117 annually
Benefits> 1,000 retail and online partner locations to earn LinkPoints atOver $2,000 savings on daily expenses
Save 1.3% at FairPrice and Unity Pharmacy with min $20 spend per locationSave 5% at FairPrice with min $20 spend at FairPrice, and 2% at Unity Pharmacy
3 LinkPoints per litre of fuel at Caltex
Earn 5 LinkPoints per $1 spent at Downtown East, Wild Wild Wet and D'Resort
-Earn 1% LinkPoints on NTUC union membership fee

Besides these, you’ll also be able to sign up for the following cards for petrol discounts of up to 18.5%, extra rebates and more:

  • NTUC Plus! Visa Credit Card
  • NTUC Plus! Visa Debit Card
  • Plus! Visa Credit Card
  • Plus! Visa Debit Card

Dividends and Cash Rebates

This one’s practically a homage to all the aunties (or inner aunties) out there, because you’re literally rewarded for shopping at NTUC FairPrice.

Donald Duck Money
Source: tenor

Here’s how it works:

For LinkPoints

Present your NTUC card at point of purchase to earn cash rebates and LinkPoints (2 points per $1 spent; minimum expenditure of $20 per day with combined receipts)

For cash rebates and dividends:

To be eligible, you’ll first need to purchase at least 20 NTUC FairPrice shares at $1 each, on top of an entry fee of $3.

Rebates and dividends are determined at NTUC’s Annual General Meeting – then distributed for the first $6,000 on your annual purchases. In 2017, members enjoyed dividends of 6% of the share price, plus 4% rebates on all purchases.

We last covered these perks in our guide to supermarket rewards programmes.


NTUC Members-Only Insurance Policies

NTUC members also enjoy automatic group insurance coverage up till the age of 65 – under what’s called NTUC GIFT. 

That includes coverage of up to $40,000 for death or total and permanent disability (TPD); union leaders, meantime, get double the sum assured.

If you’re looking to complement your group policy plan, LUV Term Life Insurance protects members and their spouses in cases of death or total and permanent disability, the latter up till the age of 65.


Voucher Programmes

NTUC’s voucher programmes were designed specifically to help the lower income defray everyday costs. Be sure to note the application criteria – such as having a monthly household income of $1,500 or less (with no dependents), or $3,400 or less (with dependents).

HDB Singapore
Source: Unsplash

The U Stretch Vouchers Programme offers a $2.50 discount off every $5 purchase at select NTUC Social Enterprises, such as Foodfare and NTUC FairPrice’s housebrands.

Then there’s the U Care Back to School (BTS) Vouchers Programme, which offsets the cost of school expenses for some 30,000 members’ children.


Representation and Legal Advice

What happens when you’re stuck in a workplace whose unethical practices have inadvertently affected you? That’s where the NTUC Workplace Advisory comes in. GB members receive advice on handling such situations from professionals at no cost.

And if you’ve personal matters that need sorting, NTUC members also enjoy free legal advice from pro bono lawyers – whether for wills or matrimonial matters. The initiative’s a collaboration between NTUC, LawWorks, and The Law Society of Singapore.

The U Network

This Labour Movement-backed initiative goes beyond NTUC’s primary function as a sole trade union.

With U Network, members are given access to training, job placement and networking opportunities. Here’s an overview of what falls under its umbrella:

 Who It's ForWhat It Offers
NTUC-Affiliated Unions and Associations  WorkersWorkplace representation and protection, e.g. wrongful dismissals and retrenchment benefits
U AssociateWorking professionalsCareer and skills development across different sectors
U PMEProfessionals, managers and executivesTo educate PMEs on workplace rights and obligations
U SMESmall and medium enterprisesAnnual SME symposiums
Conferences, training workshops, networking sessions
U FSEFreelancers and self-employedResources and networking opportunities
NTUC benefits and privileges (training grants, insurance, seminars, etc.)

All U Network members can also seek advice on workplace-related issues with the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM).

Career Growth Opportunities and Advice

It’s all about lifelong learning – and just like SkillsFuture, NTUC’s Labour Movement arm aims to help working adults remain relevant in the workplace with career support advice and programmes.

 Who It's For What You'll Get
The Future Leaders Programme Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs)Development events and programmes
U Creative InitiativeCreative professionals in the media industryThe chance to network and exchange ideas from like-minded individuals in its U Creative Facebook page
NTUC LearningHub CoursesAll NTUC membersSemi-funded self-improvement courses, e.g. 'The Five Levels of Leadership' and 'Accelerating Teamwork'
e2i's Professional Development Programmee2i-subsidised skills-upgrading courses across various industries
Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP)50% off course fees for up to $250/year to defray training/course costs

Last Thoughts

I’d initially baulked at the thought of having to pay $117 annually for NTUC membership. Yet that works out to just $9.75 a month – which, all things considered, is reasonable if you reap the full benefits offered.

It’s definitely targeted more at families than individuals, though – and for young working adults like myself, I’d much rather stick to the free Plus! card and chalk up multiple $5 vouchers from the Health Promotion Board’s National Steps Challenge.

About Rebecca Liew
Lactose-intolerant, but also BS-intolerant. Having written for the likes of Marina Bay Sands and Time Out, I now spend my days saving up for my stationery shop retirement dream.
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