FOR the past 18 years, Mr Fang Chin Poh has worked seven days a week improving the welfare of bus drivers.
On weekdays, he carries out his duties as general secretary of the National Transport Workers' Union, while on weekends, he drives buses for SBS Transit so that he does not "lose touch" with what goes on on the ground.
"When that happens, I cannot fight for their welfare better," he said.
Yesterday, the National Trades Union Congress commended the 54-year-old and gave him the Comrade of Labour (Star) Award for May Day. The labour movement praised him, saying he constantly visits bus depots, interchanges and terminals to talk to workers. Mr Fang joined the union in 1981 because he saw how some drivers were "favoured by the management" and given easier routes with fewer passengers and nicer views. "That was not right because others who did not enjoy such good relations were unfairly penalised," he said. "We managed to stamp out the practice, and that was how I started to believe in the power of numbers."
Over three decades, he has pushed for initiatives such as wage growth and improved welfare at depots. He is working on improving the image of bus drivers, a profession which he believes is regarded as low-skilled.
"With a more professional image, we hope to attract more young locals to (be bus captains)," he said.
This article was first published on April 30, 2015.
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