Kowloon Motor Bus Company (KMB) has decided to increase the wages of its drivers, station managers and maintenance staff, effective from next month. An entry level full-time driver is set to receive 30 per cent more in terms of their base wage, though drivers were previously eligible to receive the same amount if they performed well.
The move came after the Tai Po bus crash killed 19 and injured over 60 earlier this month. Reports cited passengers as claiming that the driver was driving recklessly after complaining of being behind schedule. The changes were announced after management held an urgent meeting with the KMB and Long Win Bus staff unions on Wednesday.
Full-time drivers who originally started on HK$11,810 per month will all receive safety driving and good service commissions – a sum which, in the past, was linked to performance. The new base salary will be HK$15,365.
Drivers at rank II and I will receive HK$15,856 and HK$16,165 respectively after the change. Overtime pay for full-time drivers will increase from HK$70.9 to HK$96 per hour.
KMB employs around 8,600 drivers in total.
The wages and overtime pay for drivers who received a daily salary will also rise, as additional commissions are incorporated into their base wage.
For instance, if a driver works for eight hours a day, their daily base salary will increase from HK$223 to HK$406.6. Two subsidies are then added, giving a total of HK$802.1. The overtime pay will increase from HK$102.53 to HK$116.14 per hour.
KMB’s annual wage adjustment programme will be conducted via an existing mechanism and will be effective in June.
‘Game of numbers’
Lai Siu-chung, deputy director of the Motor Transport Workers General Union’s KMB branch, said they have been campaigning for the changes, although it was a “game of numbers.”
Lai said, in the past, drivers would be stripped of their additional commissions of HK$1,778 per month if they made three mistakes. He said the union was pleased with the new plan as drivers would no longer have to worry and will choose to stay with the company.
Full-time drivers may receive around HK$1,500 more each month in overtime pay, he added.
Last week, KMB stopped offering shifts to 209 of around 360 part-time drivers.
Lai said that instances of buses running behind schedule may occur from this Sunday, as normal schedules resume after the Lunar New Year holidays.
Driver denied bail
Part-time driver Chan Ho-ming, 30, who was involved in the Tai Po crash, was denied bail by the court on Wednesday.
The defence pledged HK$35,000 in bail money and offered to surrender travel documents, so that Chan could take care of his parents. But magistrate Ernest Michael Lin said the case was too serious and there has not been any factual changes to cause him to reconsider.
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