NTUC to set up Nica to look after interests of freelance coaches
NTUC to set up group to help such freelancers with contract issues
When freelance netball coach Justin Teh, 47, sprained his back two years ago, he continued to "hobble" to work.
"If you are injured or sick, you don't get paid, and sometimes you are given a month's notice, or even a week's, before you lose your contracts," said the netball coach of 17 years.
Freelance coaches and instructors such as Mr Teh will have help soon, from the National Instructors and Coaches Association (Nica).
The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) announced yesterday plans to set up Nica to look after the interests of freelancers who teach sports, enrichment and wellness, among others, in schools and communities.
The new organisation aims to help these freelancers with contractual issues with buyers of their services, such as the People's Association, the Ministry of Education and Sport Singapore, as well as to work with insurance companies for affordable policies for wage loss due to illness and injury.
Also, Nica aims to "uplift the standards" of its members through master classes and networking platforms.
Membership, at $117 a year, is open to employees, part-time and full-time freelancers - the latter of which NTUC estimates to be about 5,000 strong.
Speaking on the sidelines of Nica's announcement at the NTUC Centre, NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said: "In the new economy, the freelancers are increasing in numbers and we estimate that there are almost 200,000 in Singapore today, so how do we take better care of them?
"NTUC would like to leverage on our strengths, our networks, to work better with government agencies that are the main buyers of these services... so that the freelancers will have a better prospect of earning a good income while they teach our children."
The Nica will be the third association for freelancers to be formed, after the National Taxi Association and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, and comes after recommendations made by a workgroup, which was formed in March last year to study how to better support the self-employed.
"The way to act on these recommendations is to come together as a community, then you can find a channel in which some of these initiatives can be pushed out.
"New feedback can also be given, so that there is this continuous dialogue and platform to engage the various buyers and government agencies," said Mr Ang Hin Kee, NTUC assistant director-general and director of the Freelancers and Self-employed Unit.
Among the issues that freelance band director Adrian Chiang hopes Nica can handle is the renewal of freelancers' contracts with schools.
The 40-year-old, who has been in the industry for 19 years, said freelancers sometimes are given as little as a month's notice before they find out that their contracts with schools are not renewed.