Show of thanks to Singapore's public transport workers on 1st day of Chinese New Year

SINGAPORE - Around 420 SBS Transit and SMRT staff were presented with oranges and hongbao when they turned up for work on Thursday morning - the first day of Chinese New Year.

The public transport workers were also greeted with well-wishes by union leaders who conveyed their appreciation to them for working on the public holiday.

The oranges and hongbao were handed out by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) deputy secretary-general Chan Chun Sing, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Finance Josephine Teo and the executive committee of the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU).

Mr Chan, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development. led workers in tossing lo hei at Hougang bus depot and Sengkang train depot.

The NTWU started its visit to some 300 bus captains at Hougang bus depot at 4.30am before meeting with about 70 staff at Sengkang train depot at 6am.

It ended its visit at Tanah Merah MRT station at 730am.

Mr Chan told reporters at the Hougang depot: "I'm very appreciative of them turning up so early on the first day of Chinese New Year. These are the people who are quietly working behind the scene to keep our essential systems working.

"So on behalf of all Singaporeans I really want to thank all these quiet workers behind the scene who are helping us in our day-to-day running of the essential services."

SBS Transit bus captain Khor Hwee Chong, 47, who usually works the 4.30am to 3.15pm shift, said this would be his 14th year working on the first day of Chinese New Year.

Mr Khor said: "I'm happy to ferry commuters around. If the commuters are happy then I am also happy."

Mr Chan, on his recent appointment at NTUC and what he hopes to do for workers, told The Straits Times: "Our job is very simple. Our job is to take care of the workers, take care of their families, take care of their livelihoods. That's been our simple goal. And we will do whatever we can together with the tripartite partners - the companies, the employers and the workers themselves - to see how we can improve the welfare of the workers over time."