Saturday 19 May 2012

SMRT raises starting pay for local bus drivers

By Lee Xin En, The Straits Times, 18 May 2012

TAKING the lead from SBS Transit, SMRT has increased the basic monthly salary for new Singaporean bus drivers by about 35 per cent, from $1,200 to $1,625. The increment started from May 1.

After including overtime, allowances and incentives, the take-home salary of the new bus drivers will increase from between $1,600 and $2,000 to about $2,500 per month on average, SMRT said.

Current bus drivers will also receive pay increases - though the details were not given by the transport operator.

An SMRT spokesman said: 'The higher remuneration underscores SMRT's commitment to our service leaders, and we hope to attract more Singaporeans to the industry.'

SMRT employs about 1,900 bus drivers, about 42 per cent of whom are from Malaysia and China.

Yesterday, National Transport Workers' Union executive secretary Ong Ye Kung said: 'I understand that the companies looked at whatever savings and grants they could get, and passed them on to the bus drivers. I applaud them for that.

'Hopefully, this increase will be able to attract a new group of Singaporeans to become bus drivers.

'I believe this will be a victory in the medium term for the companies, workers and commuters, and we're glad that the union can play a part in this discussion.'

Mr Cedric Foo, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said the pay hike 'makes sense', as the two companies are competing for the same talent pool.

When asked if the pay rise would mean increased fares, he said: 'I don't think there's a direct correlation between drivers' wages and bus fares.'

Mr Foo urged Singaporeans to take a 'mid- to long-term view' of what he said were two issues of concern: the crowdedness of the transport system, and the recognition of a social limit to the number of foreign workers in Singapore.

'The Government has injected $1.1 billion to help fund the purchase and running of buses, but these buses won't work without drivers... so I hope Singaporeans will see the bigger picture,' he said.

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