SINGAPORE: HDT Singapore Holdings will shut its taxi business due to the “prolonged debilitating impact” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
HDT’s application to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to exit the taxi business has been accepted, the firm said in a joint media release with the National Taxi Association (NTA) on Friday (Nov 27).
A total of 90 taxi drivers and four staff members will be affected, an HDT spokesperson told CNA.
“From the onset of COVID-19 in January 2020 and up till now, HDT Taxi has been wrestling with the slowing growth of its business due to the pandemic measures such as sustained periods of people working from home and restricted travel. The challenges posed by COVID-19 are unprecedented,” said the release.
Revenue from the taxi business has dropped more than 50 per cent since the pandemic began, the spokesperson said.
In reply to queries by CNA, HDT on Saturday said its last day of taxi operations will be on Dec 18.
AWS TO BE PAID
Retrenchment benefits will be provided to all affected staff members, including drivers and the backend team that managed taxi operations, said the firm and NTA.
“HDT will be paying them one month of salary for every year of service, on a pro-rata basis,” said the release.
All drivers will be given the Annual Wage Supplement and their Medisave will be topped up until the end of this year, the release added.
Employed drivers and those on trial will also be given an additional one-off “retrenchment benefit”, and the company will renew all taxi drivers’ NTA memberships for 2021, the release said.
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“Necessary assistance” is being provided to affected employees, such as linking them up with job support and employment opportunities with NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute), said the release.
“The retrenchment exercise is conducted after close consultations with the NTA, in compliance with the tripartite advisory on managing excess manpower and responsible retrenchment to ensure a fair and responsible process,” said the release.
“Together with NTA, all affected staff have been communicated to and their well-being has been a priority throughout the process.”
LINK UP WITH OTHER TAXI OPERATORS
Managing director of HDT James Ng said the firm will be working closely with the NTA to help retrenched drivers find new jobs with other taxi operators or taxi companies.
“Those who wish to become drivers of HDT’s private hire cars or private bus services will be most welcomed,” said Mr Ng.
Ms Yeo Wan Ling, director at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said the NTA has "kept a close watch over our taxi drivers" since the start of the pandemic.
"We note that this period is tough on our drivers, especially with most people working from home," she said.
"For affected drivers who would like to continue driving, NTA will link them up with other taxi operators to help them continue their driving profession."
For those open to other employment opportunities, NTA and NTUC's e2i will help them transit into new employment under the NTUC Job Security Council, she added.
Eligible NTA members will also continue to receive member benefits and financial assistance programmes, such as the enhanced NTUC Care Fund (COVID-19) until the end of 2021, with no break in membership, Ms Yeo added.
"It is with a heavy heart that we have to shed the taxi business and let go some of our dedicated employees," Mr Ng said.
"Regardless of how long they have served with us, I want to thank them sincerely for their professional contributions and having persevered with us during this crisis."