Singapore – Private hire bus drivers have been urged to “organise themselves” and to contact Workers’ Party leader Pritam Singh as he collects feedback for the proposed second Covid-19 support package.
On Thursday (March 12), Mr Singh took to Facebook to urge the drivers to state their problems amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He said he was made aware of the issue after a private bus company boss contacted him and spoke of their business difficulties.
The outbreak was bleeding their businesses because of the cancellation of many local and Malaysian trips, said Mr Singh. He added that quite a number of the drivers were foreigners and that the Budget measures, therefore, “did not really assist them directly as there was no reduction in the Foreign Worker Levy, and other measures were generally ineffective in addressing current problems”.
Mr Singh had asked the Government to look into the reduction of the Foreign Worker Levy for businesses as a way for them to cope fallout from the pandemic.
As he inquired further into this segment of workers, he discovered that some Singaporean private hire bus drivers were sole proprietors, operating 13-seat mini-buses. He explained: “They do not benefit from such schemes that support other transport workers like Grab drivers, etc. announced by the Government during Budget 2020 as part of the first relief package.”
Throughout the Committee of Supply debates last week, Mr Singh was in touch with PAP MP Melving Yong, who is the Executive Secretary of the National Transport Workers Union, to obtain more information on the private hire bus industry. “We were in agreement that the private hire bus industry is fragmented into different groups,” said Mr Singh. “Sole proprietors who do not have tourist licences, being one common example.”
In his post, Mr Singh asked Singaporeans who are private hire bus drivers to organise themselves to their best capacity and get in touch with him. He included his email address, email@example.com, so he could “collate their feedback and refer it to the union and/or the Ministry of Finance”.
“As there is another Covid-19 support package that is in the works, it would be good to have more feedback,” he said. Mr Singh also extended an invitation to those who prefer to meet in person by including the details of his next Meet-the-People Session on Monday (March 16) at Block 615, Bedok Reservoir Road, from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm.
“Singapore has many workers whose lives depend on working day-to-day,” said Mr Singh, and “although we are a small number in Parliament, my WP colleagues and I will play our part and do our best for you.”
Budget 2020: Private Hire Bus Drivers —————————————————After the Budget was announced on 18 Feb, a private bus…