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SMRT Bus Service Drivers Blow the Whistle

This email was sent to TOC and other media outlets by a group of SMRT bus drivers who requested that they be allowed to remain anonymous.

With regards to the various reports by the local newspapers, a group of bus drivers from SMRT Bus Service would like to point out that in actual fact, there is no salary increase for a large group of bus drivers.

The salary adjustment given by SMRT Bus Service is different from that given by SBS Transit. In the case of SBS Transit, they have really given a monetary addition to the salary of all its bus drivers without any withdrawal of variable allowances/incentives or working duration.

However, this is not the case with SMRT Bus Service.
 
Main Change by SMRT Bus Service:
 
For a Singaporean bus driver, the salary adjustment is $225 per month.
For a SPR/Malaysian bus driver, the salary adjustment is $100 per month.
However a crucial point to note is that all bus drivers now have to work a 6-days week instead of a 5-days week.
 
The folllowing 5 reasons will highlight how SMRT Bus Service has misrepresented the salary adjustment and in actual fact a large majority of the bus drivers who have been employed for a long time with SMRT Bus Service will lose out:
 
1. With the salary adjustment, all bus drivers are required to work 6 days instead of 5 days. In 2005, we were all on a 6 days work week. Citing work-life balance, SMRT Bus Service changed it to 5 days. Now, they are changing it back to a 6 days work week. By cutting down on our rest days, we will spend more days driving which will make us more tired. This can result in more accidents and increased MCs.
 
2. The change from a 5 days work week to a 6 days work week will result in a pay loss for bus drivers who have a gross monthly salary of about $1150 and above.
 
The formula for calculating the daily gross renumeration of a bus driver is (12 months x gross salary) divided by (52 weeks x No. of days worked in a week).
 
The following scenarios will show how bus drivers earning above $1100 will lose out in terms of monetary gains:
 
Scenario A:
For a Singaporean Bus Driver previously earning $1100, the daily gross renumeration for a 5 day week is $50.769. After the salary adjustment of $225, the daily gross renumeration for a 6 day week is $50.961 (increase)
 
Scenario B: For a Singaporean Bus Driver previously earning $1300, the daily gross renumeration for a 5 day week is $60.00. After the salary adjustment of $225 the daily gross renumeration for a 6 day week is $58.654 (decrease)
 
Scenario C: For a Singaporean Bus Driver previously earning $1500, the daily gross renumeration for a 5 day week is $69.231. After the salary adjustment of $225, the daily gross renumeration for a 6 day week is $66.346 (decrease)
 
As you can see from above scenarios, only Scenario A will result in a gain in gross salary for a Singaporean bus driver.
 
The daily difference may seem negligible however, when taken as a whole on an annual basis, this results in a substantial reduction in annual renumeration for the bus drivers who are already trying hard to make ends meet to support their families.
 
3. Based on the examples shown in the above point, the salary adjustment will also result in a lower annual renumeration for bus drivers earning more than $1150, those who work on their rest day/ public holiday and the encashment of annual leave. Having the policy changed by SMRT Bus Service from a 5 days work week to a 6 days work week will result in bus drivers having less time for their families, which is contrary to the Singapore government's policy of work-life balance. Bus drivers will only have 1 rest day a week and have to apply leave should they wish to spend more time with their family. Currently, on a 5 days work week, it is already very hard for us to apply leave as there is a quota set for each service route. With only one rest day now, it will only make matters worst. How does SMRT Bus Service expect to recruit more locals with 6 days work week?
 
4. Another point that was not reported is that SMRT Bus Service has also grouped the Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) and Malayians in the same category, and are giving a salary adjustment of only $100 to SPR and Malayian bus drivers. This decision has left many SMRT Bus Service bus drivers holding SPR status wondering why this is so when no Foreign Worker Levy is needed to be paid by SMRT Bus Service for the SPRs unlike non-SPR bus drivers.
 
5. Lastly, the reports by the local newspapers also left out the fact that SMRT Bus Service had factored in the salary increment into the salary adjustment ($225 for Singaporean bus drivers and $100 for the SPR and Malayian bus drivers). That is to say, the salary adjustment is even less than reported. With this year's inflation forcasted at 5.2%, NTUC has called companies to give employees a pay rise to beat inflation. Taking an average of $1300, a 5.2% increment for us is around $80. We need to therefore deduct $80 from the $225/$100 to reflect our actual salary adjustment.
 
We hope that the correct facts can be made public and that our union did not help us. This has led to much confusion and unhappiness among fellow colleagues and members of the public.
 
This article is published by The Online Citizen, 20 Maxwell Road, #09-17 Maxwell House, Singapore 069113.