Thursday, February 07, 2008

Rapid Penang

Within just a few months of Rapid Penang in operational, it has hit problems, with the drivers went on strike. This is really ala the UK Tube Drivers, who went on strike from time to time, to get their demands.

Lets examine whether the bus drivers got a good deal?

Previously, they got RM700 basic pay, plus a daily allowance of RM25. Lets assume that they drive for 25 days a month, then, their monthly take-home would be RM1,325. Would that be sufficient pay in Penang?

After this negotiation, the management has agreed to increase the pay to RM900 and daily allowance to RM30. With the same assumption of 25 days a month, then their monthly take-home pay would be RM1,650. Is this decent?

If I am not wrong, drivers for Rapid KL are paid RM2,000. Would the living cost in Penang be about 20% lower than those in KL? If yes, then this new pay offering is fair. Or in the first place, is the RM2k offered in Penang fair?

This kind of wage issues is always chicken and egg. Paying too much, the city/company is not competitive. Paying too little, then there is no incentive for the drivers to drive.

I'm wondering whether a bonus/incentive for the drivers could be based on the total earnings of the bus. That could "push" them to deliver better service and attracts more people to use the bus.

On getting Rapid Penang to pay for their previous summons, I think that's a definite no-no. Perhaps, Rapid Penang could provide them with zero interest loan to help them settle the summons, but I don't think it is fair for Rapid Penang to take the summons up.

To get the full details of this strike, read it at The Star

Bus drivers on strike


PENANG: Thousands of bus commuters rushing for work and last-minute Chinese New Year shopping were left stranded yesterday when striking Rapid Penang drivers brought transport to a standstill.

The commuters were left standing for hours at bus stops and terminals as the 100-odd bus drivers refused to start their engines after reporting for work at 6am yesterday.

Many commuters were late for work when 120 of the 150 Rapid Penang buses did not leave the depot in Sungai Nibong and bus terminals at Komtar, Weld Quay and Balik Pulau. However, Rapid Penang bus service in Seberang Prai was unaffected.

The drivers decided to go on strike after management rejected their demands for better pay and perks.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon asked the two parties to solve the matter immediately.

Rapid Penang board member Ong Thean Lye said the drivers were holding the company to ransom.

“We had a table talk with about 100 drivers.

“We agreed to increase their daily allowance from RM25 to RM30 but that was not enough. They wanted a salary increase of RM200 to RM900 a month,” he said.

He said they were all asked to go home and those still interested in keeping their jobs were asked to report to work today.

In a statement, Rapid Penang corporate communications assistant manager Yap Lee Ying said certain drivers were pressuring the company to settle their traffic summonses amounting to RM12,000.

“We refused to do so as the summonses were issued to them when they were not working with us,” she said.

Yap added that the company hoped to resume the bus services by today.

Rapid Penang started plying various routes in the state with 150 buses on Aug 1 last year and carries about 40,000 passengers daily.

Bus driver Idris Noor Mohamad, 37, said they felt short-changed by the company as their counterparts in Kuala Lumpur had better salaries and benefits.

“A RM200 raise is not too much as everything from food to apparel has gone up in price.

“All of us will turn up for work as usual but whether we drive the buses or not will depend on the company’s response to our demands,” he said.

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