Bus operator Tower Transit hikes staff's pay by 3.5%

Tower Transit's new bus captains (from left) Kong Chiong Ping, Lee Zi Yang and Lee Shao Xiang.
Tower Transit's new bus captains (from left) Kong Chiong Ping, Lee Zi Yang and Lee Shao Xiang. ST PHOTO: PANG XUE QIANG

Tower Transit staff can expect a pay rise of 3.5 per cent starting this month, the bus operator announced yesterday.

The pay rise will benefit 913 of its employees, including the 812 bus drivers for the 26 routes it will operate from Bulim bus depot beginning on May 29.

Junior bus captains will now receive a basic monthly salary of $1,930, which can go up to more than $3,440 monthly with overtime and other incentives.

This is up from the $1,865 starting pay Tower Transit had announced last November, which was up to 15 per cent higher than the salary offered by existing bus operators SBS Transit and SMRT at that time.

The increment, based on the average salary increase for Singaporean workers between 2014 and last year, is the first annual pay rise for Tower Transit staff here.

It comes after the Anglo-Australian company reached an agreement with the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU) over wage increments.

"Besides helping our workers cope with the cost of living, the increment also serves to keep their wages competitive," said NTWU executive secretary Melvin Yong, who is also a Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC.

Bus driver Leong Ching Leng said the move was a good morale booster in a gloomy economy.

"It is much more than I expected," said the 47-year-old, who joined Tower Transit in February this year.

A spokesman for SBS Transit said it is also in discussions with the NTWU and is expected to make an announcement soon.

SMRT said only that it would keep the total pay for its bus captains, inclusive of overtime and allowances, "market competitive".

British firm Go-Ahead, which won the second government bus contract for $498 million last November, could not be reached for comment. It is expected to start running 25 routes in the Punggol and Pasir Ris areas in the third quarter of this year.

Tower Transit became the third bus operator here in May last year after winning the Bulim bus package with a bid of $556 million for five years.

It will take over nine routes from SMRT on May 29, and another 17 routes from SBS Transit in two batches on June 12 and 26.

All the routes will serve western Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'Bus operator Tower Transit hikes staff's pay by 3.5%'. Print Edition | Subscribe