This post is provided by the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF), World Council's direct member organization in Singapore.
COVID-19 has brought a health pandemic and impacted the economy. It has also disrupted lives and businesses worldwide. Co-operatives (co-ops) around the world are coming together to protect workers, members, users and the community at-large.
Here are just some ways that co-ops in Singapore are fighting the pandemic.
CARING FOR EMPLOYEES
Daily temperature screening for staff, office disinfection, use of hand sanitizers, travel history check and temperature taking for all visitors, split work and one-metre apart seating arrangement were some measures taken by SNCF and co-ops like POLWEL Co-op, Singapore Government Staff (SGS) Credit Co-op, NTUC FairPrice Co-op and NTUC First Campus Co-op at the workplaces prior to the implementation of circuit breaker on 7 April 2020.
Some co-ops like POLWEL Co-op and SGS Credit Co-op even issued their staff with masks, personal thermometers and hand sanitizers.
CARING FOR MEMBERS
Member welfare is also top on the mind of our co-ops. Straits Times Co-op gave out a one-time special payment of $50 to staff and members who have been with them for at least one year in May, while SGS Credit Co-op is looking into adding a COVID Circuit Breaker support sum in the form of additional dividends to their members in their coming AGM in August 2020.
SGS Credit Co-op introduced a Micro Loans scheme where members can go online to loan up to $400 instantly, with approval and credit within the day. Straits Times Co-op allows its members to defer loan repayment up to six months, while TCC Credit Co-op postponed loan repayments and waiving late penalties for members in the aviation industry until 30 June 2020.
Taking care of members’ health and well-being is equally important.
RunningHour Co-op, which promotes the integration of people with special needs through sports such as running, has taken its classes online and is streaming weekly Zumba and circuit training classes, as well as a running session with warm-ups done via Facebook Live, to help their members continue to stay active at home and connected to the RunningHour community during this circuit breaker period.
CARING FOR COMMUNITY
Our co-ops continue to contribute to the larger community even during this trying period, such as Seacare Co-op offering discounts for Malaysians staying in Singapore during Malaysia’s MCO at the Seacare Hotel.
On ‘Doing Good’, we have Singapore Statutory Boards Employees’ Co-op donating 10,000 surgical masks and 200 reusable masks in partnership with GP+ Co-op to thank migrant workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. SNCF collaborated with Hagar Singapore, an NGO through Migrant x me, a social enterprise to distribute the masks to migrant workers who are staying in the Westlite Mandai dormitory.
Likewise, Straits Times Co-op donated $1,000 to Mind the Gap Fund to support the households that are affected by COVID-19.
NTUC FairPrice Co-op, among the many initiatives that it has taken to protect the community at its supermarkets, like safe distancing and temperature screening, has along with strategic partners pledged $240,000 to ComChest Heartstrings Buy community engagement initiative to benefit the less privileged community, including the poor and needy, disabled and senior citizens.
It also pledged a donation of up to $500,000 to Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home, Metta Welfare Association, Assisi Hospice, Touch Community Services and Food from the Heart, through online grocery orders. Under the FairPrice Group, NTUC Foodfare Co-op and Kopitiam have provided $120,000 worth of MILO beverages to hospital healthcare workers.
Helping workers to sharpen their skills or develop new ones becomes even more important during this time. NTUC LearningHub Co-op offers training support and free online courses as well as support to prepare individuals to transition to new job roles.
Mercatus Co-op offered rental support and an assistance package to help its retail tenants defray costs and safeguard jobs. NTUC First Campus Co-op, apart from creating interactive home-based learning resources and parent guides on a one-stop portal, gave a 50% fee offset off the net fees payable for Singaporean children enrolled in My First Skool, The Little Skool-House and The Caterpillar’s Cove who are not attending pre-school during the circuit-breaker period.
NTUC Income Insurance Co-op is providing additional COVID-19 cover at no additional premium to close to 27,000 individuals insured by Income’s Personal Accident plans and over 500,000 employees of organizations insured by its Group Employee Benefits policies. It is also supporting lower-income households by extending COVID-19 benefits to the Income Family Micro-Insurance Scheme, and has been offering full refunds for customers wishing to cancel their travel insurance due to the COVID-19 situation.
To cheer the frontline workers and community, SNCF sponsored and led 250 students from nine Coop Clubs to pack snack hampers and pen their own appreciation in self-made thank you cards to frontline workers as a form of appreciation and encouragement in February and March 2020.
Over 30 hampers were delivered to healthcare professionals and frontline workers working in Changi General Hospital, National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, National University Health System (JurongHealth Campus), Sengkang General Hospital, Singapore General Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Immigration & Checkpoints Authority.
Industrial and Services Co-op Society (ISCOS) launched #ISCOS Steady Note to help and encourage the community during this COVID-19 pandemic, while GP+ Co-op helped the public to post words of encouragement to healthcare workers via social media and support the mental health of healthcare workers.
It is indeed heart-warming to see co-ops rallying together during these difficult times to inspire each other to live out co-op values and spirit of self-help, mutual help and caring for community. it has also demonstrated that co-ops are resilient in times of need and ever ready to meet emerging challenges. Co-ops are BETTER TOGETHER.