Bus drivers are human too

TRANSIT took note of this article in the Star today. As is the case, we often forget that the transport workers who drive our buses and taxis and trains are people too. They have lives and salaries and families. And sometimes, they are forced to pay the price for the effects of poor planning and regulation of public transportation.

10 years on, bus company workers’ salaries and EPF remain unpaid

Wednesday August 5, 2009 BY ZALINAH NOORDIN

KUALA LUMPUR: After more than 10 years, some 350 workers of the now defunct Len Omnibus Co Bhd are still waiting for their salaries and EPF contributions.

Although some of those who were not paid their dues had passed away, those surviving, many who are in their 50s, are fighting for their monies.

They claimed that their EPF contributions had not been remitted since 1997 while those who had retired were waiting for their gratuity payments.

The EPF contributions owing to the workers were estimated at RM100,000 while the unpaid gratuity and salaries amounted to more than RM1mil.

A representative of the group Abdul Rahman Ismail, a former ticketing officer with the company for 20 years, said those affected were drivers, conductors and clerical workers.

“We’ve been referred to the Labour Office but we’ve been sent on a wild goose chase. Each time we were there we were treated rudely,” he said.

Three of the seven directors of Len Omnibus have filed for bankruptcy and one has absconded.

“So what’s going to happen to us if the directors are declared a bankrupt? Does it mean that we won’t get the money that we’ve worked so hard for all these years?”

He was one of the 30 disgruntled workers who had sought help from Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk T. Murugiah who was at the Kampung Sri Batu Kemas Community Centre.

“We have no choice but to see Datuk Murugiah as we’ve been made to wait for so long. Ten of the workers have died while waiting for the money,” Abdul Rahman said.

Another worker, Yap Lai Heng, a former bus driver with the company said that he lost his job after it went bust in 2002.

Not having received his salary since the late 2001, Yap, who had been a bus driver with the company for 15 years, has exhausted his savings and is now doing odd-jobs to make ends meet.

Murugiah said that he would look into the matter and gave the agencies involved one month to solve the issue.

“I’ll see to it that they receive their salaries and the parties involved have to look for ways to solve the matter,” he added.

TRANSIT Says:

We often wonder how much thought (forethought or afterthought) actually goes into public transport in Malaysia. Many of us only see the basics of the infrastructure – the buses and the bus stations, the trains and LRT stations.

But there is so much going on behind the scenes that we are hardly ever made aware of. Do any of us know all of what goes on at the control centres, mechanic’s workshops, station command centres, bus hubs, etc?

Have we stopped to consider what facilities are available for the people who work for these companies?

To give you an example: have you ever thought about where bus and taxi drivers can go to the toilet or have lunch? Do the “bus hubs” that we have in the Klang Valley even have these facilities available?

More often than not, the answer is, few of these facilities are available – which helps explains why we often see buses and taxi “hubs” near restaurants or Mamak shops.

Here is another example: RapidKL HQ is located at the Subang Depot. While trains go from the depot to the nearest station, Kelana Jaya, they do so empty. Employees who want to take public transport to work must stop at Kelana Jaya station, wait for the T607 bus and face the traffic jams in SS7 and along Subang Airport Road before they can even get to work.

One wonders why none of them have spoken out in the past 10 years and asked why the LRT did not have a station at Lembah Subang Depot?

It is easy to be critical of a driver who is generally nameless and faceless – but if we start to remember that these drivers are people and start seeing them in a friendly way (as we used to) then who knows what difference might be seen.

That is one reason why TRANSIT is strongly in support of local public transport.

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