On 24 February, SMRT and the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) have announced that the terms and benefits for SMRT staff will be improved. According to the release, these better terms and condition include:
- Better employability with 5 year post-retirement contracts and reskilling for new roles
- Boosting team efficiency and productivity with performance excellence incentives
- Staying competitive with wages
- Joint efforts with NTWU on workforce safety and discipline
Working closely with NTWU to further improve the terms and conditions of its 11,000-strong workforce, it aims to attract more talent in the public transport industry, and retain and recognise existing skilled staff. Building on the trains and bus career schemes implemented four years ago, the improvements are in the following key areas:
Better employability with 5 year post-retirement contracts and reskilling for new role
To improve the long term employability of its skilled workforce, trains workers can now look forward to better re-employment contracts after they retire at 62. Retired workers who have exhibited consistent good performance and are fit and healthy for their roles can look forward to a 5-year reemployment contract up to age 67. Previously, they were re-employed on yearly contracts up to 67. Working with NTWU, selected experienced staff will also be re-skilled and redeployed to areas where their experience and knowledge can be put to good use, such as in quality control, inspection, safety, and as trainers.
Boosting team efficiency and productivity with performance excellence incentives
A Rail Excellence Team-based Award (RETA) has been introduced since January 2018 to encourage and incentivise rail maintenance and operations teams to work together toward performance excellence in rail reliability, with emphasis on continuous improvement and productivity. Work teams who meet the team performance targets can earn up to $250 per staff per quarter.
Staying competitive with wages
To ensure its worker’s wages are market competitive, starting salaries will be increased from 1 March 2018. Starting salaries of graduate engineers will be raised to $3,800 per month (by up to $350) for good honours degrees. Polytechnic graduates will see a starting basic pay of $2,400 (an increase of $200) and those with Higher National Institute of Technical Education Certificate (NITEC) will see a starting basic pay of $1,900 (increase of $225).
Joint efforts with NTWU on workforce safety and discipline
A Joint SMRT-NTWU safety improvement committee was formed to improve safety throughout SMRT’s transport network. Union representatives have provided many useful ground up perspectives and suggestions, and work closely with Management to implement safe practices and strengthen workforce discipline.
In the release, Gerard Koh, SMRT’s chief corporate officer, said: “We are pleased to have forged over the years a close partnership with NTWU to sustainably improve benefits for our valued staff.”
As they do their best to improve reliability and commuter service, SMRT will continue to recognise their efforts and nurture them so they have can have a rewarding career with us,” he continued.
Meanwhile, NTWU executive secretary, Melvin Yong, said: “NTWU has been working with all public transport operators to improve the terms and conditions of employment for our public transport workers. The improvements made by SMRT are a step forward in ensuring that the employment terms and conditions of our rail and bus workers in SMRT remain competitive.”
“Moving ahead, NTWU and SMRT will continue to work closely to ensure that the rail and bus workers in SMRT are well-equipped with the right skills and knowledge to take on future and higher-value jobs. Just as we have done so in the past, NTWU looks forward to co-creating initiatives with SMRT to operationalise the Land Transport Industry Transformation Map and to manage the workforce transformation together,” he added.
Additionally, SMRT aims to recruit up to 2,500 more staff over the next three to five years. This includes hiring 200 more engineers for its current MRT lines and the Thomson East Coast Line (TEL), which opens in phases from 2019.
These new joiners will increase its trains’ headcount by 45% and boost the number of SMRT rail engineers by 40%. In tandem with a stronger push to recruit new talent, SMRT is also improving the competency development and retention of experienced staff to meet with the needs of its expanding MRT network.
It said: “SMRT will continue to set high benchmarks to nurture staff to their fullest potential. These objectives are in line with the Land Transport Industry Transformation Map to raise, train and sustain the manpower development pipeline as part of an overall drive to improve the efficiency, reliability and comfort for commuters on our MRT network.”
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