Overview of NTWU
NTWU is an affiliated Union under the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), representing workers from the transport industry. Our membership stands at 18,000 today. The Union is well-known for its down to earth nature, and solidarity and cohesion amongst its members.
We look after the welfare and interest of workers through a host of activities, including collective bargaining, resolution of disputes and grievances, and welfare benefits such as merchandise discounts, affordable insurance coverage and sports and social activities.
NTWU has 43 branches, and the key branches are SBS Transit, SMRT Corporation, Jurong Port, and ComfortDelgro Group. Bus drivers, truck drivers, maintenance technicians, train officers, and MRT station officers are examples of the significant membership groups.
7 July 1981 – NTWU was born
NTWU was formed in 1981. We are a spin-off Union from the Singapore Industrial Labour Organisation (SILO), which was an omnibus (i.e. a multi-industry) Union. At that time, Singapore was undergoing rapid industrialization, and it was felt that workers would be better served by industry Unions that better appreciate the problems and challenges of each industry, as opposed to an all encompassing omnibus Union. SILO and the Pioneer Industries Employees Union (PIEU) were therefore restructured into nine industrial unions, including NTWU, on 7 July 1981. At the beginning, NTWU had 30 branches covering the public transport, lighterage, and other harbour craft services, with a total membership of 11,000.
1982 – Start of Scholarship and Bursary Awards
In 1982, NTWU started its most long lasting and meaning programmes, which is to grant Scholarship and Bursary Awards for members’ children from Primary to Tertiary levels. Over the years, the programme has assisted thousands of members to ensure that their children had a good education.
1983 – Significant developments in industrial relations
The first collective agreement was signed with SBS in 1983, in the presence of Mr Lim Chee Onn, then Secretary General of NTUC. In the same year, Trans-Island Bus (TIBS) was inaugurated as a branch of NTWU. TIBS Branch was to be the second Branch operating public bus services with about 400 union members.
1984 - SBS mass retrenchment
In our drive to higher productivity, SBS implemented the One Man Operation Ticketing System (OTS) in 1984, which led to 3,000 SBS bus conductors losing their jobs.
Instead of resisting the move, NTWU recognised that higher productivity was in the long term interest of Singapore and its workers, so it instead stepped forward to support the process and assisted affected bus conductors. In close consultation with the management, 1,000 plus of the affected conductors were retrained or redeployed to do other jobs in the company. The remaining was retrenched in four batches with reasonable compensation package.
1985 - Union House Destroyed
Disaster struck NTWU as our union premise at the Sports House at Farrer Park was completely destroyed by fire. With the assistance from the NTUC, NTWU shifted office to the annex of the NTUC at Shenton Way. Later on, in 1986, NTWU shifted to the Singapore Port Workers’ multi-purposes hall at Cantonment Road. In 1988, NTWU moved to its current premise at Geylang Lorong 37. Then NTUC Secretary General Mr Lim Boon Heng officially opened the new union premises on 7 July 1988.
1992 – Recruitment of General Branch (GB) Members
The concept of General Branch (GB) membership was introduced by NTUC in early 1992. This was an innovative concept, to expand the membership base of NTUC, by promoting social and lifestyle benefits, instead of collective bargaining benefits, which may not be applicable to all workers. NTWU supported this concept and started our first recruitment of GB members. Within a few months, we managed to recruit 119 workers. Today, our GB members total more than 4,300.
2000 and 2001 - Welcome on Board SMRT and Jurong Port
2000 and 2001 were significant years, as the SMRT Employees Union, a house Union, decided to join NTWU. As a result, the membership of NTWU grew by 2,363. More important, the industry was better able to speak with one voice. Shortly after, Jurong Port with167 members also joined the NTWU family in Jan 2001.
2003 - Welcome on Board ComfortDelgro Group of Companies
In 2003, the Comfort Group and Delgro Group went through a merger, creating then the world’s 2nd largest land transport company known as ComfortDelgro Corporation. With close consultation and collaboration between management and union, companies under the Comfort Group transited smoothly into NTWU. The membership of NTWU grew by another 750 members.
About the NTWU Logo
The new NTWU logo redesigned in 2006 reflects the diversity in the union membership. By retaining the core design, it adds a sense of tradition and represents its connection to its roots. The incorporation of a rail track and wave reflects the membership from the rail and port services. The new colours depict strength, dynamism and stability of the union as it forges ahead to improve the lives and welfare of the workers now and the future.