Newly minted Minister for Transport, Ong Ye Kung has taken to to social media to express his gratitude for bus drivers while denouncing passengers who abuse them.While it is heartening to see the minister publicly defend those who work in a sector within his portfolio, one does wonder what his views in relation to the reports of how bus drivers have been intimidated are?
After all, what for castigate passengers without also censuring the employers who have a far bigger impact on the well being of bus drivers as a whole?
For those who are unaware, a group of bus drivers have taken legal action against SBS Transit for allegedly breaching their service contracts. Amid this David versus Goliath lawsuit, a disturbing and concerning audio recording has been leaked on social media where an SBS Transit employee can be heard allegedly intimidating a bus driver who is involved in a lawsuit against the company.
If Ong truly wants to champion bus drivers, would it not be more useful to take a personal interest in this saga? Instead of simply praising bus drivers on social media, would it not be more productive to ensure that bus drivers are fairly compensated for their hard work? Rather than pretty words online, why not publicly denounce intimidation tactics?
It must also be noted that some bus drivers have withdrawn from the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU), being the union that is supposed to protect their rights, on the basis that they do not believe that NTWU would stand its ground to fight for members’ rights. What are the Transport Minister’s views on this? Surely, it should be concerning that some bus drivers do not feel looked after or protected by the very union that is supposed to defend them?
Given that Ong is publicly praising bus drivers, he must surely be of the view that they perform an invaluable service to Singapore. Flowing from that, don’t they deserve to be properly remunerated? And, if that is the case, shouldn’t Ong do everything within his power to ensure that the very people he is praising feel appreciated in every way possible?
What is the point of words of praise if bus drivers feel underpaid and are seemingly being threatened by their employers?
If Ong genuinely values bus drivers, he should publicly take action against errant transport bosses and ensure that employees are properly and fairly treated. Otherwise, his public praise will seem simply like a publicity stunt even if that is not his intention.
While pretty words have its place, actions speak louder.