Singapore – June 27, 2022 – For years, Singaporeans have relied on SMRT Singapore and its team of dedicated drivers to safely transport individuals around the country in comfort and style. Recently, during the pandemic and the ensuing circuit breakers, the government, including the Ministries of Health and Transportation and Singaporeans alike relied on SMRT drivers for safe transportation during stay at home and quarantine orders. After thousands of hours of service, and putting their own health and safety at risk, SMRT drivers were shocked to discover that the company they work for has reneged on its promise of a new, fairer contract and instead wildly increased rental fees.
In the last six months, drivers have had three different contracts offered to them and subsequently retracted. Each new contract came with a different, higher fee. Fees for the daily rental for vehicles have gone from $98 per day for vehicle rental during the pandemic and circuit breakers, to the current offer of $150 per day for vehicles which are now up to two years old. On April 30, 2022, the daily fee was increased by 33% to $130 on a one year contract. Two weeks later, on May 17, the terms were changed to a two years contract. Less than a month after that, the contract offer was retracted again, and on June 14, the daily rate offered to drivers was changed to $150 per day on a two year term, a 53% increase in less than two months. The new daily rate, along with a massive increase in the cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance is severely impacting the ability of drivers to earn a living and provide for their families.
“We are shocked at the treatment we’ve received,” explains Sherwin Tan, a long term driver with the company. “During the pandemic we were honoured and eager to be helping to keep the country running safely. We felt a great sense of togetherness not only with the fellow Singaporeans, but also with our company and its leadership team. We anticipated that once things got back to normal in the country, the company would provide drivers with a fair offer. Instead, despite seeing our fuel costs and maintenance costs soar, we’ve been offered three different contract terms, each of them worse the previous and each one withdrawn within a month of its being initially offered. Worse still, we are left without any means of appeal. Instead of recognizing long term drivers who helped keep the company going during the pandemic, drivers have been told that there is a waiting list with hundreds of potential new drivers willing to step in and take our jobs.”
In an effort to publicize their case and gain support, drivers with SMRT have started a petition. To date, hundreds of individuals have signed the petition in a show of support for the drivers in their pleas to SMRT.
Time is ticking on the petition, as drivers have been warned by SMRT that they only have until June 30, 2022, to accept the imposed new contract conditions or face termination.
“We are only asking for what is fair,” says Tan. “We understand that companies need to be competitive and that there are economic challenges in the world right now. Forcing workers who have done their best for the company and the country to accept a contract that will see them unable to earn a living wage is untenable. Employers need to be held accountable to their workforce and shouldn’t be able to turn their backs on those who did their best for the company. It goes against everything Singaporeans believe in.”
To show support for drivers in their campaign for fair wages and contract terms, and to connect with the SMRT drivers leading the campaign, please visit https://chng.it/StC859Sh