The Public Bus Sector is slowly taking a new form…


SMRT Train.Bus

In another shake up to the public bus industry, SMRT introduced initiatives to boost its headcount and upgrade its staff.

Just a week before, new public bus operator Go-Ahead announced that it will offer its bus drivers a starting pay of $1,865 per month. This was similar to the monthly basic salary which was offered by Tower Transit, another new public bus operator which won the contract to operate bus services from the Bulim Bus Depot.

However, some misinformed netizens have remarked that the new salary packages of the new entrants to the industry show that the union has failed in its job.

So let’s re-look at this issue.

Right from the get-go, the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) had already engaged the incumbent operators to understand the concerns of the workers and also to answer any questions that they might have.

The Public Transport Tripartite Committee (PTTC), which the NTWU is a member of recommended 3 key assurances to safeguard the welfare of the affected employees.

The three key assurances were:

  1. All affected employees must be offered a job by the incoming operator;
  2. Affected employees must be offered employment terms which are not worse off than that enjoyed before transition; and
  3. Affected employees can choose to join the new operator, or be redeployed by their current employer where feasible.

What does this mean?

If the union wasn’t involved right from the start, the new entrants could have had offered employment terms which are worse off than those offered by the incumbents.


Labour Member of Parliament and Executive Secretary of NTWU, Melvin Yong had this to say about the Bus Contracting Model:

“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.”

Secondly, incumbent SMRT’s new initiatives to increase its headcount and upgrade staff was developed in partnership with the union (NTWU). If the union wasn’t credible and trustworthy, the organisation would not have worked with the union to develop new initiatives to improve the livelihood of transport workers, which in turn lead to improved transport services and reliability.


Now that you’re better informed about the union’s role in the Bus Contracting Model, go and spread the news that the union did indeed play a huge part in ensuring the job security of transport workers.


Image Credits: Ministry of Transport, Labourbeat, Asiaone.

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Arthur Lee

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