The Straits Times
Published on Dec 12, 2012

Keep drivers' pay in mind when growing bus fleet


I AGREE that bus drivers, like all working Singaporeans, should be paid fairly and are similarly subject to the rising cost of living ("Bus fares may go up to help improve drivers' pay"; last Friday).

However, the salary adjustment complaint, which the Chinese SMRT bus drivers claimed was a reason for their illegal strike, arose from poor communication between the management and staff of SMRT, as the Manpower Ministry has pointed out.

How does a question ostensibly about improving channels of communication to prevent disputes between workers and management translate into an issue about fare increases to boost the bus drivers' wages?

In the 2012 Budget, the Government announced a $1.1 billion package to be disbursed to public transport operators as part of the Bus Service Enhancement Programme.

The ramp-up may have led to a spike in the number of drivers, which consequently increased the strain on operators to pay for an expanded workforce.

If such were the consequences, the Transport Ministry and the Land Transport Authority should have factored costs involving driver demand into the enhancement programme.

Edwin Yang