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08 Apr 2021
3 mins
Brother Nachi’s Legacy Lives On

SMOU is deeply saddened by the passing of a distinguished union leader, Brother Nachiappan RK Sinniah, or Brother Nachi as he was fondly known, and extends our sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the family.

The veteran union leader and founding member of the Union of Power and Gas Employees (UPAGE) passed away on 16 March 2021 at the age of 67 due to ill health. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

“SMOU will never forget the legacy that Brother Nachi has left behind. In his courage, perseverance, righteousness, warmth and unflagging dedication to champion the interest of workers, Brother Nachi exemplifies what it means to be a true blue unionist. He is dearly missed but his legacy lives on,” said Sister Mary Liew, NTUC President and SMOU General Secretary.

Photo Credit: NTUC

Brother Nachi had dedicated his life to serve the interests of workers.  A unionist since the 1980s, Brother Nachi rose to become the Deputy General Secretary of the Public Utilities Board Staff Union in 1989. With the corporatisation of the PUB’s power and gas departments, Brother Nachi became the General Secretary of the newly formed UPAGE in 1995 and flowed on to be Emeritus General Secretary in 2015.

Brother Nachi was known as a transformational unionist. He led UPAGE through its period of growth and through restructuring and liberalisation activities in the power and gas sector. Fearless when it comes to forging new grounds for the union and workers, he was often the voice of workers while understanding the intricacies of labour-management relations. Brother Nachi once said, “You are a leader. Believe in yourself. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid of management. Take them as your partners.”

A passionate advocate for workers’ training. Brother Nachi led UPAGE in rallying industry partners and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency to launch the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications framework for the energy sector in 2010. The framework was a structured approach to providing re-skill and multi-skill training for workers. Brother Nachi had always been known as a selfless unionist who identified with vulnerable workers and those experiencing hardship.

In his Facebook post, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng described Brother Nachi as “a leader, a comrade, a brother”. “Brother Nachi was a colossus in UPAGE. He led with vision, competence and compassion over the years, first as a founding member and eventually as emeritus general secretary,” Brother Chee Meng posted.

For his contribution to the Labour Movement, Brother Nachi was conferred the Public Service Medal In 2011 and honoured with the Comrade of Labour (Star) Award in 2014.

In an interview, Brother Nachi once commented, “For me, it’s a passion to serve. I believe in serving, nothing else. A union can never function with one person. We need to have a group of dedicated leaders.”

Brother Nachi was that one dedicated leader and what a difference he made.