PTTC Announces Guidelines on Good Employment Practices
1. The Public Transport Tripartite Committee (PTTC) chaired by Senior Minister of State for Transport Mrs Josephine Teo and comprising representatives from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU), SBS Transit (SBST) and SMRT, was established in February 2014 to provide a platform for engagement and consultation on policies that affect the public transport workforce. In particular, it oversees measures to safeguard bus sector employees’ job security and welfare during the transition to the Government Contracting Model (GCM).
2. Since May this year, the PTTC has consulted various stakeholders and conducted a series of engagement sessions with employees in the bus industry to understand their concerns. Drawing from this, the PTTC has developed a set of Guidelines on Good Employment Practices in the Public Bus Industry (the “Guidelines”). The Guidelines, covering areas such as employment terms, employee benefits and professional training, define the obligations and responsibilities of both incoming and outgoing bus operators under the GCM. The Guidelines will be referred to in their contracts with LTA. All public bus operators should take note of the Guidelines, and factor them into their tender proposals accordingly.
Uphold the spirit and practice of tripartism
3. Reflecting the spirit and practice of tripartism, the PTTC is a platform that brings together the labour movement, employers and relevant government agencies to address industrial relations issues and disputes in a consultative and proactive manner.
4. The PTTC welcomes all public transport operators, including potential new entrants to the public bus industry, to join the PTTC and to participate in the development of the public transport industry in Singapore.
Nurture strong labour- and union-management relations
5. The PTTC firmly believes that strong labour- and union-management relations at the company level are important. It notes that more than 90% of bargainable employees in the public bus and rail industries are currently represented by the NTWU and urges all bus operators to continue to actively support and work closely with the trade union in the company even as the industry transits to the GCM. For potential new entrants, the PTTC strongly encourages them to grant direct recognition to the trade union whose members constitute more than 50% of the employees for collective bargaining.
6. “Companies should actively support and constructively engage the representative industry trade union on any workforce issues and to resolve any industrial disputes, so as to ensure service continuity and improve service standards over time,” said Mrs Teo.
Safeguard the welfare of affected bus industry employees under the GCM
7. Each new tender or change in contract for bus services can result in the movement of bus employees from one employer to another. To safeguard the welfare of the affected employees, the Guidelines detail the obligations and responsibilities of both incoming and outgoing bus operators to facilitate a smooth transition for the affected bus employees. These include the timeline for the offer of employment, recognition of the length of service, employment terms to be preserved, treatment of affected bus industry employees, including those who choose to stay with the outgoing operator, as well as training for those who choose to join the incoming operator. These employee aspects of the Guidelines will be incorporated into LTA’s tender specifications and subsequent contracts with the public bus operators.
8. The three key assurances proposed by the PTTC are:
- All affected employees must be offered a job by the incoming operator;
- Affected employees must be offered employment terms which are not worse-off than what they have been enjoying before transition; and
- Affected employees can choose to join the new operator or be redeployed by their current employer, where feasible.
9. “I cannot over-emphasise the importance of good employment practices and healthy industrial relations to the provision of high quality public bus services. The Government knows this, the union leaders and the public transport operators also know and support such an emphasis. These guidelines are a culmination of many months of hard work by the PTTC and will help to ensure a smoother transition to the new bus contracting model,” said Mrs Teo.
Annex A: Guidelines on Good Employment Practices in the Public Bus Industry
 The NTWU is affiliated to NTUC and has been the representative industry trade union to draw up collective agreements with the existing public transport operators for both their bus and rail businesses.
 With the Bus Service Operating Licences for the two basic bus operators expiring on 31 August 2016, the LTA intends to progressively restructure the public bus industry to one where it contracts bus operators to operate bus services through a competitive tendering process. The GCM enables the Government to make public bus services more responsive to changes in ridership and commuter needs, as well as inject more competition into the industry, thereby raising service levels for commuters over time.