A united body to represent the interests of insurance workers was a long-felt need. Soon after a preliminary survey in mid-September 1955, Mr A. J. Louis, Mr E. M. Christian and Mr Al. Alagappan approached the Singapore Trades Union Congress (STUC) to seek advice on forming a union for insurance workers. Mr Ang Kim Thye and Mr Lim Eng Cheok who were also planning on forming an insurance workers’ union, joined in readily. With sheer determination and support, these men went around calling on workers from various insurance companies to answer the call of labour solidarity.


On 15th October 1955, a Protem Committee of 7 was formed in a meeting held at No.3 Allenby Road. Mr A. J. Louis was elected as Chairman and Mr G. A, Rajoo became the Committee’s first Secretary. With unwavering support, the Committee grew to 15, then to 21 and was eventually legally registered on October 31st 1955, bearing the Registration No.331.


Affiliated to the STUC on 10th April 1956, an Inaugural Meeting held earlier on January 22nd 1956 at the P. & T. Union Hall was graced by then Minister for Labour & Welfare Mr Lim Yew Hock and STUC President S. Jaganathan. Mr A. J. Louis was consequently elected as the union’s 1st President at the meeting and Mr E. M. Christian its first Secretary. Singapore saw for the first time in history, a young Singapore Insurance Companies Employees’ Union (SICEU) dawning. By that meeting, membership already reached 349 and steadily grew to 606 by 30th September in the same year. A year later on 31st October 1957, two years after the union’s registration, membership shot up to 617.


Union membership fees paid according to the union’s Rules then were:


Subordinate Staff

Membership fees

$1.00 per month

$0.50 per month

Fighting Fund (Compulsory levy on each member paid in 2 to 3 instalments)



Voluntary Donation (Contributions made voluntarily by members after agreements were signed and salaries adjusted.)


On wages and conditions of service, the newly elected officials got down to work instantly after the union’s Inaugural meeting. Having collected data of various insurance companies from individual members, joint meetings were held and a set of claims were formulated. Placed before members after careful study at the Extra-Ordinary General Meeting on May 5th 1956, they were rectified and approved in no time. 24 insurance companies received these claims soon after. Having intent to negotiate on a group basis with a unified scheme for the entire industry, managements then were unprepared to talk as one collective body to the union. Hence, negotiations took place individually with each company.


As Singapore progresses on, so did the union in reaching for better terms for insurance workers. In November 1957, approved by the Government, the union produced its first periodic newsletter named “The Insurance Worker”. Various sub-committees were also formed to provide other social benefits for members to enjoy a higher quality of life.


Times for insurance workers and its union did get better as Singapore progressed through the years, though not always with a smooth ride. Reminiscing the past, no one can deny the few brave individuals who despite all odds, came together to right what was wrong. Their contributions to generations that followed deserve our highest honour as we celebrate the union’s 50th Golden Jubilee this year.

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