Labour body working with Grab to boost welfare of drivers

A labour association signed an agreement with ride-booking app Grab yesterday to better protect the welfare of private-hire drivers.

Through a memorandum of understanding, the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) will widen its membership and outreach, and also foster more discussion with Grab.

The NPHVA said it has approached Uber to work together.

NPHVA executive adviser S. Thiagarajan said the association will meet Grab on a "regular basis", to discuss concerns including the fair treatment of drivers, incentive programmes which affect their income, training, support, and operational issues.

An association branch, of Grab drivers, will also be set up.

Grab already has three offices, in Sin Ming, Jurong and Bedok, along with a 24-7 hotline, but the branch will provide an added channel through which drivers can give feedback.

Mr Thiagarajan said: "If the company were to approach the drivers, they may not be as open and forthcoming.

"With the (branch's) driver representatives, the trust levels will be much higher."

The NPHVA was registered in May and has a current network of 1,500 drivers. They include combi-bus drivers, limousine drivers, and those driving for companies such as Uber and Grab.

While it declined to reveal how many are actual members, the figure is expected to grow because of the MOU.

NPHVA members are also part of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and enjoy benefits such as free insurance, skills training support and bursaries for children.

The NPHVA will also be able to e-mail Grab's private-hire car drivers to persuade them to join the association or attend its social activities, dialogues and talks on how to boost incomes or manage their taxes.

In return, Grab will work with NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute to recruit drivers.

Grab and Uber have declined to reveal how many private-hire car drivers they have in Singapore.

Grab driver Edwin Tan, 27, said fare cuts will be one issue he hopes the association will talk to Grab about.

"The incomes of drivers who work outside the peak hours - when they can earn incentives - will be affected," he said.

Correction note: An earlier version of this article said NPHVA is working with Uber. That is incorrect. We are sorry for the error. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2016, with the headline 'Labour body working with Grab to boost welfare of drivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe