Monday, 24 February 2014

Health, wellness and financial schemes for cabbies

The National Taxi Association (NTA) thanks Mr Robert Lim for his many useful suggestions ("Offer free health screening, awards and perks to improve cabbies' welfare"; last Sunday). We will study them carefully as part of our feedback process.

We have about 180 full-time taxi drivers who volunteer their time as elected representatives to help members with workplace grievances and organise events.

Through regular engagements with taxi drivers on platforms like our coffee-shop talk sessions and focus group discussions, the NTA gathers feedback on the issues and worries they face.

As drivers ourselves, we empathise with the concerns affecting cabbies' daily living.

Some of the recent issues raised by the NTA include the call to review the taxi industry holistically, relaxation of Central Business District rules, the Electronic Road Pricing discount pass, fare and rental review, and further tweaking of taxi availability indicators.

One area of focus is the cabbies' health and wellness.

Being self-employed, we need to save up for our medical needs. Thus, it was a breakthrough when the NTA managed to get taxi operators on board the Drive And Save scheme in 2011, by co-contributing to cabbies' Medisave accounts.

The NTA also partners Parkway Shenton, Raffles Medical, NTUC Unity Healthcare and Q&M Dental to offer affordable medical treatment and services to our members and their families.

To keep our members fit and healthy, sporting and wellness programmes like bowling, badminton and brisk walking are organised regularly.

Through our collaboration with various local attractions, such as the Science Centre, Wild Wild Wet and Resorts World Sentosa, our members are offered discounted rates to enjoy the facilities with their families.

Also, to help relieve cabbies' worries relating to rising school expenses for their children, 3,100 eligible members and their children receive about $580,000 worth of financial assistance through U Care Back to School vouchers and U-Stretch vouchers annually.

There is still a lot more we can do, and we hope to continue doing so for our members. We look forward to working with all our partners and key stakeholders to bring about positive changes to the lives of our cabbies.

Gerald Chan
National Taxi Association
ST Forum, 23 Feb 2014

Offer free health screening, awards and perks to improve cabbies' welfare

Cabbies are not entitled to the benefits - both medical and welfare - that most full-time employees enjoy, and more should be done to improve their well-being ("Spare a thought for cabbies' risks" by Dr Yik Keng Yeong; last Sunday).

The National Taxi Association (NTA) and cab companies could do the following:
- Provide free yearly basic health screening for cabbies; those who want a more thorough check-up can top up the cost.
- Organise an annual family day, with subsidised entries to places of interest, including entertainment and food. Top it up with lucky draws with attractive prizes to encourage participation.
- Present annual book prizes and scholarships to cabbies' children who excel in their studies.
- Organise an annual dinner and dance, with tours as lucky draw prizes. Winners of such prizes should have their taxi rentals waived during the period of travel.
- Tie up with food and beverage outlets to offer discounts to cabbies, especially at places of interest, the airport and shopping malls.
- Set up clubs where cabbies can socialise and relax.
- Appoint union representatives to help resolve work-related issues, including unreasonable passengers who make complaints over petty matters.
- Establish an online platform (under the NTA) for cabbies to give feedback and suggestions, and share their concerns.
- Start a President's Award for cabbies, as well as other awards to recognise cabbies who provide exemplary service.
- Waive taxi rentals if cabbies are hospitalised; taxi companies can arrange for relief drivers to take over.
Can the NTA comment on my suggestions?

Robert Lim
ST Forum, 16 Feb 2014

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