Wednesday 16 October 2013

Three-pronged approach to improve cabbies' welfare: National Taxi Association

THE National Taxi Association fully agrees with Mr Chua Kok Nam ("Consider paid medical leave for cabbies"; last Friday) that more can be done with regard to the health and safety of our taxi drivers.

In trying to address this need, we have taken on a three-pronged approach.

First, any additional costs should not be simply passed on to drivers. We regularly seek the assistance of the taxi operators to enhance the terms and benefits for drivers.

However, we are mindful that any changes implemented do not translate to additional costs borne by our drivers, like the raising of rental charges.

We have made proposals to the Land Transport Authority that the Taxi Service Operator's Licence and taxi availability indicator regimes focus not just on quantitative assessment of the taxi operators' performance, but also how they manage drivers' welfare and their working conditions.

Second, we have tied up with several partners, for example, Raffles Medical Group, Parkway Shenton, Q&M Dental Group, NTUC Unity Denticare and the Health Promotion Board, to provide affordable medical and dental benefits to our members. Members also participate regularly in our sporting and exercise activities.

Finally, we have also set our sights on the future. We have spearheaded the implementation of the Drive and Save Scheme to help drivers build up their Medisave.

With the Government's plan to implement MediShield Life for all Singaporeans, we will continue to work with it and operators on ways to help taxi drivers further augment existing schemes to save up more for their Medisave.

Ang Hin Kee
Executive Adviser
National Taxi Association
ST Forum, 15 Oct 2013

Consider paid medical leave for cabbies

AS THE son of a taxi driver, I grew up seeing my father leave home every morning in the wee hours and return late at night. It is especially frustrating to see my father work an average of 360 days a year, even on days when he feels unwell, so as to offset the daily rental that the taxi operator charges.

There is currently no regulation making it mandatory for taxi companies to provide cabbies with an annual quota of medical leave, or the equivalent of unpaid medical leave in the form of a rental waiver.

While the major operators do provide rental waivers in the case of hospitalisation of the cabby or a death in the immediate family, more can be done.

The current system encourages taxi drivers who are sick to continue working in order to cover the daily rental. This poses a danger not only to the cabby but also to other road users.

Even though taxi drivers are considered to be self-employed, they deserve the basic right to be granted medical leave when they are genuinely sick.

I hope the National Taxi Association can play a more proactive role in working with the taxi companies to improve the welfare of cabbies.

Chua Kok Nam
ST Forum, 11 Oct 2013

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