SINGAPORE: Organisations will have to part company with workers who fail to meet the mark and do not improve after being counselled, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.
Mr Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, was speaking on Tuesday (Nov 14) at the inaugural appreciation day for some 22,000 public transport workers, held at Bedok Town Square.
Citing last month’s MRT tunnel flooding, Mr Khaw said that the past cannot be changed "but let it be the turning point for SMRT, especially in its journey towards transforming its corporate culture.”
He said the incident, which arose because a group of SMRT staff failed to carry out their maintenance duties, had "brought disrepute" to other transport workers. “They have tarnished the reputation of Singapore and Singaporeans.”
But Mr Khaw noted that the incident could happen to any other organisation.
“In every large organisation, there will be some black sheep. Our job is to identify them, counsel them, give them opportunities to shape up, and if they cannot, get them to part company."
“What we should not do is to turn a blind eye to their act, or worse, follow them,” he added.
Mr Khaw also paid tribute to public transport workers, calling them "silent, every day heroes who make our daily trips on public transport possible" who have joined a "noble" profession.
He said that the vast majority of workers in the industry are honest, hardworking and dedicated to their responsibilities, which is why they deserve respect and gratitude.
"I encourage our commuters to take active steps in showing appreciation to all these hardworking individuals every day," he said.
Mr Khaw also pointed out that daily bus and rail rides have increased nearly 30 per cent to nearly 8 million over the past five years, with over 1,000 new buses added, as well as trains. As such, the workload and demands have increased.
“To upskill our public transport workforce and uplift their careers, the Singapore Rail Academy and the Singapore Bus Academy were established. Work is also ongoing to develop an Industry Transformation Map for the Land Transport sector which will outline plans to prepare our public transport workers for jobs of the future,” he added.
Some operators have taken it upon themselves to provide better welfare and engagement for staff.
Newcomer Tower Transit on Tuesday launched TowerCARE, that brings amenities, activities and benefits to its some 900 staff. These include express massages as well as fitness classes for their bus captains at various bus interchanges.