The Public Bus industry is set for a change this year.
Yes! If you don’t know anything about the Government Bus Contract Model which kicks in with the start of the first contract in May this year (2016), then you should really start reading about it now.
In short, the Bus Contracting Model is one where the government will own all bus infrastructure such as depots and other operating assets.
The bus contracting model affects two groups of people in a major way: Commuters and Workers.
For commuters, they can look forward to better service levels with all bus services having scheduled headways of no more than 15 minutes during peak periods.
But the ones most affected by the transition to the bus contracting model are the current employees in the incumbent bus operators.
When the Bus Contracting Model was announced in May 2014, the National Transport Workers Union (NTWU) swung into action and held multiple dialogue sessions with bus captains and technicians from the two incumbent operators to help them understand the model better.
Again, when the contract was awarded to London-based Tower Transit Group Limited in May 2015, NTWU urged the company to recognise the union and got down to discussing the employment terms with the company based on the Guidelines on Good Employment Practices developed by the Public Transport Tripartite Committee (PTTC).
One of the guidelines based on NTWU’s feedback was for all affected workers to be offered employment terms and conditions that are no worse-off than what they are currently enjoying .
Success of Tripartism
In a recent interview with the media, Labour MP Melvin Yong shared that the Bus Contracting Model is a success story of Sectoral Tripartism.
“The Public Transport Tripartite Committee (PTTC) has worked hard to ensure that affected bus workers are not short-changed in the transition to the new government bus contracting model… it is a win-win-win situation.”
In the same interview, Yong mentioned that the latest retrenchment figures from MOM is but one of the many signs that point towards a downturn.
Last week, NTUC also released 2015 retrenchment figures and predictions for the first quarter of this year.
To help its members, Yong said:
“NTUC will work closely with the respective unions to identify and take care of affected workers.”
As the economy restructures, Yong added that the government, labour movement and the employers need to be united in one common goal to overcome the impending downturn.
Speaking in Parliament during his maiden speech, Yong said that as Singapore continues to restructure its economy, “there is also an urgent need to optimise our workforce for the future.”
He said: “Sectoral tripartism would play an important role to help our workers enhance their employability through continuous learning.”