Malaysia(ns) boleh

From: phillip ang
Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2013 11:33 AM
To: TAN CHUAN JIN
Cc: bga336 ; choonhock ; cue_liew ; jaya kumar ; <a title=”jjauto ; ken_dxb ; lchertan ; MOT PERM SEC ; <a title=”lui_tuck_yew ; news ; newseditor ; MP ZAINAL SAPARI ; <a title=”ngys ; ongqyqy ; PM LEE ; <a title=”jiankang ; STANLEY ; <a title=”stlocal ; ST JONKWOK ; <a title=”admin ; TOC ; <a title=”andrew ; yahoo ; <a title=”zblocal
Subject: 20130425 Malaysia(ns) boleh

Dear Minister Tan

The SMRT’s/SBS Transit’s policy of hiring bus drivers from thousands of miles away ie China, India must be discontinued for obvious reasons:
– drivers are in the service industry yet could not communicate with passengers ie huge language barrier
(question marks on their faces when queried and queries mostly redirected to other passengers)
– intangible cost of housing them
– added congestion to public transport
– integration issues with local and Malaysian bus drivers because they stay in dormitories
– PTOs only looking from a profit perspective at the expense of Singaporeans

Efforts to integrate foreigners have already failed. Increasing expenses incurred in conducting overseas roadshows, advertising etc will eventually be used to justify future increases in fares.

SBS Transit should cease barking up the wrong tree in its “various efforts over the years to promote the profession”. There is no point for fancy titles like bus captains because drivers also work to put food on the table, not fancy titles. Might as well provide them with a full set of pilot uniform and renamed ‘bus pilots’ giving the more senior drivers titles of AVP and VP.

The issue has always been one of meagre salaries which for a driver has stagnated/negative real wage growth. Prior to the recent adjustment, salaries had been low enough to have qualified many drivers for WIS. The recent adjustments are insufficient to address years of stagnant growth. This is the reason why there are few takers for the job.

PTO’s should consider increasing a driver’s pay by between $300 to $500 and applications will probably exceed vacancies. Overnight ‘property queues’ may even form outside SMRT/SBS Transit headquarters. Driving is hard work with weekends ‘burnt’ and PTO’s should really pay their drivers decent salaries. The root of the problem has always been low pay.

(An ‘uncle’ who retired from SBS last century had been a driver for 2 decades. His single income was sufficient to raise a family with 3 children and pay for the roof over their head with a 20-year mortgage.
After the introduction of OMO where the bus conductor became redundant, productivity went up along with salaries until government policy opened the FT’s floodgates)

In the past, there used to be only Singaporean and Malaysian drivers. Being our immediate neighbours and once fellow countrymen, there were no issues of integration. And best of all, no strikes.

Malaysian drivers are the best fit for our PTOs also for obvious reasons:
– able to communicate well with locals, many speaking a few dialects
– on the same ‘wavelength’ with fellow local drivers
– possess personal transport ie motorbike, doesn’t add to congestion on public transport, work timing doesn’t coincide with peak hours
– most travel back home across the causeway daily, no strain on already insufficient housing resources.

Recruiting foreign drivers from China incurs additional recruitment/training/integration costs as well as intangible ones (integration issues, strain on limited resources such as housing/land as well as public transport). Intangible costs cannot simply be ignored by the government. Employing Chinese bus drivers certainly pad the bottom line of a company at the expense of Singaporeans’ quality of life.

If an increase of say $300 to 500/driver resolves a host of issues and improve service, the government should seriously consider reverting to this previous win-win solution. With an eventual total of 8000 plus bus drivers after the implementation of BSEP, the additional wage bill is between $30 to $50 million annually.

Taken from the perspective of the humongous $1,100,000,000 BSEP injection of taxpayers’ money, this amount is also really peanuts if the lives of drivers improve with a real belated adjustment. Employees struggling to make ends meet cannot be expected to provide good service.

When Singaporeans and, worse, even Malaysians shun being a driver, alarm bells should have rung. PTOs should not continue promoting the profession through cosmetic changes.
The advantages of employing Malaysians as bus drivers vs other nationalities in light of current issues cannot be ignored.

Thank you.

Phillip Ang

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