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  • Writer's pictureAREU LM

It all started because of an unexpected invite

“Hi Bro, free today? Come join me for a meeting.” Little did Brother Hassan Bin Abdullah, President of the Attractions, Resorts and Entertainment Union know that this unexpected invite from his fellow colleague, Brother Gopal, will bring him on an exciting journey as a Union Leader.

We asked Brother Hassan about his reflections on being in the Union for more than a decade. “It has been a truly meaningful one. To be honest, I wasn’t particularly excited about the invite from Brother Gopal to join in the union’s annual meeting. In fact, I didn’t want to have anything to do with unions, I only attended because of our friendship. But that meeting changed my perspective towards union work. I started to observe the things the branch officials were doing for fellow workers, and it got me thinking.”

Why do people give?

This question has always been on Brother Hassan’s mind. He shared that the most common types of volunteering we have heard of are looking out for the less privileged, caring for animals and building a sustainable environment. The idea of volunteering is the act of giving to help someone in need and hoping to make things better along the way. And union work does exactly that and in fact, a lot more. It is about looking after the welfare of common people, fellow workers. It is also about making sure wages are fair and sustainable. And most critically, that we progress upwards as a whole as the nation moves forward.

"Union work is about the people."

An aggressive young chap to the respected leader today

Brother Hassan started to become more active by first becoming a branch official, and later rose the ranks to take on higher positions in the union. He was elected to become the 1st President of the Attractions, Resorts and Entertainment Union in 2011.

As we were chatting with Brother Hassan, it didn’t take long for us to notice the passion he had in him. He wasn’t the loudest at the lunch venue we met, but he spoke with gusto and conviction. He shared about the many negotiations he went through with various stakeholders since becoming a Union leader.

You may be curious, are negotiations always hostile, does it involve the banging of tables? Brother Hassan laughed and told us how aggressive he was as a young chap. “No table banging lah, but at certain point, discussions can get heated. But we are all there to solve and mitigate issues. Our discussions are always based on facts, and we all seek to understand things better.” As Brother Hassan gained more experience, he later adjusted his negotiation methods.

“I think the key is to remain firm but objective. We want to do our best to solve problems, build relationships with our stakeholders.”

The post-pandemic tourism and hospitality scene

First SARS, and then the COVID-19 global pandemic, Brother Hassan said he had seen the tourism and hospitality sector go through several ups and downs over the past decades. New jobs have emerged, technology has taken over the functions of certain job roles, the skillsets required evolve and the way the sector is developing is an exciting yet challenging one.

“We need more talents to join the sector and to join the union as members and leaders.” He quips. AREU’s current membership stands at over 13,000 and we want to continue growing and to represent our workers better. He urged for more people to explore a career in this sector. “I have been in this sector almost all my life and how often do you get to tell other you work on an island!” Hassan encourages new entrants to the industry to not be fearful to take the first step.

“And while you can, do more, take another step forward and join the Labour Movement.”

Brother Hassan joined the movement because he wanted to be the catalyst for change, to create a better workplace and work environment for his fellow peers. You can as well…

After being President of AREU for 12 years, Brother Hassan decided to take a step back, providing opportunities for newer leaders. He remains a core part of AREU as he focuses his efforts on grooming the newer leaders as Advisor of the Union.


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