Tower Transit pay increment: Negotiation still a central role for our unions


Even before they start operations, UK based transport operator Tower Transt announced that it will be increasing the pay of its bus captains and all staff covered under an agreement with the National Transport Workers Union (NTWU). Staff are expected to see an increment of 3.5%

A junior bus captain will stand to receive a basic monthly salary of $1930. This is exclusive of overtime pay and incentives which, when factored in, would mean the driver would take home about $3440 a month.

“By pegging our annual wage adjustments to national wage data, and keeping it separate from performance incentives, we’re making sure all of our staff’s wages keep in step with the cost of living in Singapore,” said Tower Transit managing director Andrew Bujtor.


Just a week ago, Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo unveiled a “Sectoral Manpower Plan” for the public bus industry. The movement seeks to establish effective manpower strategies for the bus industry. This includes attracting and retaining local bus captains to strengthen the Singaporean core and help workers grow their careers.

Unions are forging new routes and establishing new modes of improving a worker’s position in his/her career. The situation is unlike unions of times past, where collective agreements and bargaining are the only means they have to help a worker.

Equipping a worker with a variety of skills, networks, opportunities and helping them add value to their employer that translates to better pay and better prospects is central to NTUC’s direction today.

NTWU Executive Secretary Melvin Yong applauded the announcement of the (SkillsFuture) initiatives, and noted that the union will continue to push for greater changes to the industry.


“First, it is essential that we implement the Progressive Wage Model for our bus captains at the industry level as the number of stakeholders in the industry grows. This would help further secure the career paths of our bus captains as we transition to the bus contracting model,” he said, referring to the wage increment model in Singapore.
“Second, we will continue to work closely with e2i and the respective public transport operators who help to lead the Place-and-Train Programme, in enhancing the programme to attract more locals to join the industry (and) third, we want to further improve the working environment for our bus captains. We hope to work closely with LTA to incorporate our union’s inputs into the design of new public bus facilities as well as to review the existing facilities.”

Whilst all these are initiatives delivered to improve the careers of all public bus workers, it helps to see unions bump up salaries together with employers – just as Tower Transit has done.

Image Credits: Channel NewsAsia, Todayonline, Labourbeat.

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Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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