Monday, February 26, 2018

SMRT to raise starting salaries as it embarks on hiring spree

By Victor Loh

24 February, 2018

SINGAPORE — In a bid to retain and attract more manpower, transport operator SMRT announced on Saturday (Feb 24) it will be raising starting salaries and improving staff benefits, as it seeks to recruit 2,500 more employees over the next three to five years.

The starting monthly pay for fresh engineering graduates will increase by 10 per cent to S$3,800, under new terms and conditions that were discussed with the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU), in line with the land transport industry transformation map (ITM) unveiled earlier.

Selected staff who reach the retirement age of 62 will also be offered five-year term contracts until age 67, SMRT said in a statement.

Previously, retired workers with good performance and physically fit and healthy for their roles were re-employed on yearly contracts up to age 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,” said SMRT.

For example, Ms Maimunah Ismail, 55, who was previously a station manager with SMRT for the last 30 years, became a trainer in SMRT institute last year.

“The best gift an employer can give to staff is re-skilling to increase their employability and ability to contribute to the company in other roles. I am thankful to SMRT for this opportunity,” Ms Maimunah said.

As part of the hiring spree, SMRT intends to boost its the number of SMRT rail engineers by 40 per cent, with 200 more engineers for its existing MRT lines and the Thomson East Coast Line (TEL), which opens in phases from next year.

Rail maintenance and operations teams that work together to meet targets can earn up to S$250 per staff per quarter, added SMRT.

Other incentives doled out include increasing the starting salary of polytechnic graduates from S$2,200 to S$2,400 and offering a higher starting basic pay of S$1,900 for those with Higher National Institute of Technical Education Certificates (NITEC), up from S$1,675.

According to an internal memo addressed to all SMRT staff seen by TODAY, starting salaries for bus captains will also increase by S$50 to S$2,000, allowing them to earn up to S$3,600 monthly with allowances and incentives.

All eligible non-executives will also get an increment of S$20.

Night shift allowances will also be raised by 8 per cent per shift to encourage more workers to work the graveyard hours. Citing it as a move to boost team efficiency and productivity, the memo said that more staff working on the late night to early morning shifts will “optimise the maintenance work during the increased engineering hours from the early closure and late opening of train services.”

To improve safety on the ground, engineering maintenance managers — whom the memo identified as the “core middle layer to drive safety and workforce discipline on the ground” — will also get higher salaries and a new pay scale, in line with their increased scope and responsibilities. The memo, however, did not specify the increment.

“As (our staff) 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,” said Mr Gerard Koh, SMRT Chief Corporate Officer.

Under the land transport ITM, 8,000 new public transport jobs are expected to be created by 2030 to support the expansion of Singapore’s public bus and rail networks.

“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,” said NTWU executive secretary Melvin Yong.

He added: “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.”

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