Friday, 17 August 2012

Be grateful for goodwill

SINGAPORE: Transport operator SBS Transit has apologised for the longer-than-expected delay in the North East Line (NEL) train service on Friday.

The delay was caused by a power supply fault in the morning and a subsequent signalling fault in the afternoon.

In the morning, SBS Transit informed commuters that train services on NEL had been delayed by an average of 20 minutes in both directions.

But many commuters complained the wait was about double that time.

One commuter told Channel NewsAsia: "The announcement kept going on that (train service) is delayed for 10 to 15 minutes where (in fact) from Hougang to Chinatown, it has already been delayed for 40 minutes to almost an hour."

The commuter added: "(SBS Transit's) announcement should at least be factual and give people a choice. If the delay is much longer, people will have the choice of not cooping inside the train and they have the choice whether to use other means of transport."

Commuters shared their experiences online, with many asking why the information fed to them was not accurate.

Some were frustrated that they were in the trains for almost an hour, and pointed out that the trains stayed at every station for 10 minutes.

One passenger told Channel NewsAsia that he was late for work and ended up leaving his job earlier than planned.

The passenger said: "I come in late at around 9.20am and was late for around 20 minutes. I told (my employer) he should not deduct from my pay. But he said I was working at an hourly-rate and we started arguing. Because of the (train delay), I lost my job!"

SBS Transit acknowledged that there was "definitely a delay of more than 15 minutes" at certain points along the day.

This was because it had to shut down a section of the tunnel. This meant the trains could only turn along at one point in the tunnel instead of two normally.

SBS Transit's vice president of corporate communications, Tammy Tan, said: "I think we could have communicated better definitely and we will learn from that. The 15 minutes was an average delay expected but we could have given a better gauge and we will certainly do it better next time round. We do apologise for that."

SBS Transit said it discovered a traction power fault at about 6am on Friday but it decided not to shut down the entire line as it would have been "very disruptive."

A separate signalling fault was later discovered at about 2.45pm.

SBS Transit said it has since rectified the signalling fault but not the traction power fault.

It added that it will rectify the traction power fault at the end of service on Friday.

Ms Tan also explained why SBS Transit did not activate free shuttle bus services earlier this morning.

She said bus bridging services are not offered when there is actually a train service.

But because of goodwill, SBS Transit decided to deploy free bus shuttles during the evening peak hour to make sure that commuters are not inconvenienced unduly.
Separately, the Land Transport Authority said it is monitoring the incident very closely.

LTA added it will send a team of engineers to help SBS Transit supervise the repair works.

Income opportunity

Saturday, 11 August 2012

SMRT, LTA spending of S$10 million on COI hearing raise questions

SMRT, LTA spent S$10 million on COI hearing

S$10 million.

That’s how much the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT spent on the recent Committee of Inquiry (COI) hearings.

Announcing the sum on Friday, the LTA said its expenses on legal fees and consultation fees for its panel of experts came up to S$4 million while SMRT incurred the rest.

“The COI process was important to LTA. Credible experts and good lawyers were hired to ensure an optimal outcome. As a result of the process, we have greater clarity about what happened during the December incidents. Measures have been taken to improve reliability and strengthen the regulatory framework,” said an LTA spokesman, as quoted in The Straits Times.

Read the rest here


Just take SMRT as a truly privatised company who needs not account to other than their shareholders what they do with they money. Does no Singaporean citizen though, bat an eyelid that LTA just spent $4,000,000 of taxpayers' money on an investigation?

Do we have the right to demand a breakdown of LTA's expenses on legal and consultation fees?

If LTA needs to spend millions to acquire clarity on what they should be knowing in the first place, how much money do we need to incur for the next mysterious MRT breakdowns if the improved regulatory framework fails us again?

On top of spending $6 million on legal and consultation, SMRT paid $2 million in fines after being deemed accountable by the Committee of Inquiry (COI). While it appears that LTA recouped back $2 million of taxpayers' money, we should be aware that the major shareholders of SMRT is Temasek Holdings at 54.25% stake.

Temasek Holdings is the investment company owned by the government of Singapore which invests the money of the Singapore public. Do we, as the citizens of Singapore, have the right to know why we need to spent a total of S10 million to mediate between a government authority and a company owned by an investment company owned by the government?

Why do we need a COI if external legal and consultation companies were called in?

How much money was paid to the members of the COI?

LTA has an in-house legal department with 10 staff in the team. [link] Why do they need to spend 4 million on external legal support? 

We need answers.

SMRT bus drivers appealed to union chief

Dear Sir,


1. We, employees of SMRT Corporation (hereinafter referred to as “Employees” and “Management” respectively), respectfully file this appeal for a reconsideration of the terms of employment with the Management following the recent revision of salaries for employees.

2. We wish to state at the outset that we make this appeal in the spirit of compromise and in good faith. As loyal employees of SMRT Corporation, our objective is to secure an acceptable and mutually beneficial outcome for all parties concerned. This would necessarily include the customers whom we serve, the thousands of bus passengers who rely on our service for a safe and comfortable journey to their destinations.

3. In summary, our appeal is for a reinstatement of a 5-day work week from the revised 6-day work week, incorporating the recent salary adjustments. In the alternative, in the event a 6-day work week cannot be granted due to exigencies of work and manpower constraints, we would appeal for an adjustment in salaries to reflect a true increase in daily gross remuneration of employees, rather than the current stagnation or outright diminution of daily wages as a result of longer working hours.

4. We set out the reasons of our appeal as follows.

Employment terms prior to the revision of salaries

5. Prior the recent revision of salaries, employees worked a 5 day week. This was implemented sometime in 2005 by management, citing work-life balance as a reason for this change. Previously, employees worked a 6-day week. This move had the support of a vast majority of bus drivers, as the non-pecuniary benefit improved overall morale and lifted the spirits of employees who then had more time with their family and friends.

6. The average salary of a bus driver before the revision was approximately from $1,100.00 to $1,500.00 per month.

Employment terms after the revision of salaries

7. On 1 May 2012, the average salaries of Singaporean bus drivers was increased by about $225.00 per month, while that of Malaysian and Permanent Resident bus drivers was increased by about $100.00. The move was a laudable one, no doubt motivated by consideration of management for the welfare of bus drivers, and to address competitive pressures in the bus industry in general. It is no doubt also apparent that the remuneration curve of bus drivers was lagging the national average in general and the announcement was welcome relief to employees.

8. It is in this spirit, we believe, that the Secretary General and Executive Committee agreed with Management to accept the proposals by management.

9. However, there has been a vital misunderstanding and lack of consideration made to a crucial aspect to the new terms of employment. This key aspect was in respect working hours that was set by Management on the back of the wage adjustments made. As stated above, Employees previously worked a 5-day work week. After the salary adjustments were announced, the work week was changed to a 6-day work week.

10. This has had the detrimental effect of decimating any benefits derived from the salary increments in terms of the daily gross remuneration of a bus driver. We illustrate this point as follows.

11. Using the formula for calculating gross remuneration as (Gross salary per month x 12 months) divided by 52 weeks to derive the weekly wage, and further divided by the number of days worked to derive the daily gross wage, the following 2 comparative tables can be drawn up a range of remuneration levels of bus driver:


Monthly Gross Wage Yearly Gross Wage Weekly Wage Daily Wage
$1,100.00 $13,200.00 $253.85 $50.77
$1,300.00 $15,600.00 $300.00 $60.00
$1,500.00 $18,000.00 $346.15 $69.23

Monthly Gross Wage Yearly Gross Wage Weekly Wage Daily Wage
$1,325.00 $15,900.00 $305.77 $50.96
$1,525.00 $18,300.00 $351.92 $58.65
$1,725.00 $20,700.00 $398.07 $66.35

12. It is clear from a comparison of the last column of Table A and Table B that average gross daily remuneration levels have effectively been reduced as a result of the implementation of a 6-day work week.

Our appeal is meritorious

13. The increase in wages at the gross monthly level is not enjoyed at the gross daily level because of the increase of the work week by an extra 1 day. We believe that general principles with regards to increase in wages should take into account the following factors:

(a) as a means to redress lagging wage levels in the general economy;
(b) as a gauge to increased productivity gains, both current and planned;
(c) as a means to increasing Employee welfare and satisfaction.
The objectives in paragraph 13(b) commonly follow when the objectives in paragraphs 13(a) and 13(b) are met or exceeded. Regrettably, as is clear from our arguments in the preceding paragraphs, none of these objectives have been met. The salary increments have not had the intended effect of meeting social objectives or achieving economic benefits.
14. As such, we would request that the Executive Committee and / or Secretary General commence follow up talks with Management for the purpose of tabling these arguments and seeking ways and means by which the salary increments can be translated into tangible gains for the Employees.

15. We are available at any time to discuss this matter further with union representatives if any clarification is request on any matters raised herein.

This letter of appeal is signed by the Employees whose names appear at Annex A of this letter.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Drive more carefully leh

10 August 2012

A bus crashed into a bus stop near Teban Gardens early this morning, around 6.15am. According to SMRT, there were about 20 passengers on board the bus at the time of incident. 1 passenger was injured.

A witness who was on the bus said about 9-10 people fell after the bus hit a bollard (concrete support pillar). He added that when the passengers got up, the driver was unconscious and slumped over the steering wheel, and some of the passengers had to wake him up.

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World Class Plagiarism