Monday, 23 April 2012

SBS to raise bus drivers' wages by 16 per cent

Higher basic monthly pay for new local recruits to get more to join; increments for existing drivers too
By Jermyn Chow, The Straits Times, 22 Apr 2012

SBS Transit will increase the basic monthly pay of new Singaporean drivers by 16 per cent to $1,600 in a bid to attract new drivers.

The company's spokesman Tammy Tan said that with overtime and allowances, they can earn about $2,250 a month in gross salary in their first year of service.

The public transport operator has good news for its more than 1,900 Singaporean bus drivers too - they will get a pay rise of $225.

Non-Singaporean drivers will take home smaller increases of between $75 and $150.

These increments, which kick in next month, will benefit more than 5,300 bus drivers in all.

Ms Tan added that the company has hosted more roadshows at bus interchanges, held walk-in interviews and put up more advertisements to sign up more drivers.

As a result, 733 signed up last year.

Under the Government's $1.1 billion plan to help fund the purchase and running of buses, SBS Transit and its competitor, SMRT, will need 1,600 more bus drivers.

SMRT currently employs 1,900 bus drivers whose monthly basic pay is $1,200.

Its spokesman said the company intends to increase the pay package to keep abreast of market developments.

The Straits Times reported last month that the National Transport Workers' Union was in talks with SMRT to raise the basic pay of its bus drivers and catch up with the salaries of their counterparts in SBS Transit.

Yesterday, the union said SBS Transit's pay hike across the board is 'a very fair thing to do'.

Its executive secretary Ong Ye Kung said: 'With the higher basic salary, we hope that more Singaporeans will be attracted to join the public transport sector, and NTUC will work actively with SBS Transit to reach out and attract more Singaporeans to join the industry, and help raise service levels for commuters.'

Mr Cedric Foo, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said the pay hike makes sense.

'The work is more demanding and they work longer shifts than taxi drivers.'

He added that the operators can also look into other benefits for bus drivers like improving rest areas at bus interchanges and bus depots, or tweaking the length of shifts.

But more importantly, operators must also raise productivity, in tandem with giving higher wages.

'Services should run more efficiently, or else, fares may go up with the increase in costs.'

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