NTUC and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spread festive cheer on Chinese New Year Eve to show appreciation for public transport workers

While y’all were busy prepping for LNY, here’s what the Prime Minister and NTUC’s Secretary-General were up to.

Have you ever had to work on a public holiday, and felt super sian while y’all were at it? If you were a part-time student, you were probably thinking about the double hourly rate, even if it meant having to slog while others were off with their families spending time.

This is the reality for some of our essential transport workers like our bus drivers.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited the Woodlands Integrated Transport Hub (WITH) bus interchange during Lunar New Year (LNY) eve to thank our transport workers for providing their services during the festive session.

The visit was organised by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU), and was hosted by SMRT Corporation Ltd, a unionised company under NTWU.

PM Lee noted that it is the first Chinese New Year since the start of the pandemic where things are “back to normal”.

Why transport workers?

NTUC and the G have been talking about strengthening the Singaporean Core a lot the past year and seeing how public transport is an essential service for our economy and communities, it’s important to ensure that our essential transport workers are cared for and take care of.

NTUC’s Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng together with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited the Woodlands Integrated Transport Hub (WITH) to show appreciation for public transport workers working during the festive season. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic period, NTWU worked closely with LTA and the Public Transport Operators (PTOs)  to ensure the safety of workers through enhanced cleaning of their work and rest areas, regular daily temperature taking and routine testing as well as dedicated rest areas for bus and transport workers.

NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said,

“Today, when we visited the Woodlands transport depot, it is really good to greet the bus captains who have done so much in the last two, three years.

“We will continue to champion their interests just as we have done over the last decade. In the way of NTUC moving the wages, I’m very happy that the bus drivers now earn maybe even up to 50 percent more than what they did 10 years ago.

“We’re continuing to push for their welfare in terms of rest areas, lounge areas, and better work prospects even as the economy transforms.”

Ensuring that our public transport workers remain future-ready through training

Speaking to journalists at the Woodlands Integrated Transport Hub bus interchange, PM Lee also said that in 2023, global uncertainties are unexpected.

“We are expecting growth to be slower due to possible recession in developed countries,” he said.

“We should be able to avoid this recession, but we will still have to look at China and how they resume activities.”

On top of that, to gear public transport workers for LTA’s plans for half of Singapore’s public bus fleet to be electric buses by 2030, bus captains and technicians are in the midst of being trained progressively to handle electric buses.

To ensure that workers remain future-ready, the Singapore Bus Academy has been working with stakeholders – bus suppliers, Institutes of Higher Learning, NTWU, and bus operators to curate relevant training programs on cleaner energy buses for the bus workforce.

A Tripartite Industry Transformation Map and Rail Manpower Development Plan Steering and Working Committee was formed in 2018 comprising of LTA, NTWU, and Public Transport Operators (PTOs) to curate and identify relevant training courses for bus and rail workers in the following areas:

  • Data Analytics
  • Rail Engineering
  • Stations Management

About 3,000 workers have attended these courses to date.

Is this a yearly affair?

The LNY visit is part of an annual tradition where NTUC and Labour Movement leaders spread the festive cheer to workers who have to work on a holiday. To showcase their appreciation, LNY gift bags were given out to workers at WITH, which included red packets, mandarin oranges, a carrier pouch, chips, and disposable face masks.

Together, let us remember to show our appreciation for our transport workers! If you’re taking the bus, MRT or any other form of public transport this LNY, remember to flash them a smile or a simple thank you. It’ll make their day more than you know.

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