TL;DR – You can get either $100 or $200 worth of FairPrice and Kopitiam vouchers.
It has been slightly over a month since the 5 November announcement that Personal Mobility Devices (PMD) are to be banned on footpaths. This announcement also means that food delivery riders cannot use their e-scooters on footpaths when doing their rounds.
For the first two weeks immediately after the announcement, food delivery riders showed up at Meet-The-People sessions around the island, and there was even a rally at Hong Lim Park, albeit not terribly successful since only 70 people, including media, turned up. Of course, people from different quarters all had chimed in to have their say about the ban.
Some are there for the drama and some, for the politics
Many people have made a lot of noise and said a lot of things over this matter. Some have even tried to capitalise on the issue to milk and stir anti-establishment sentiments, including leaders of opposition parties like Goh Meng Seng and Lim Tean. The former even tried to claim credit for some of the recommendations that the Government has put forth. Many of those who were initially so vocal have all faded into the background.
Over a dozen Telegram groups were formed in early November when the ban was announced. I was in about a dozen different groups, trying to understand the problems and frustrations of the riders and also trying to see what their planned next steps were.
There were at least two groups of people trying to organise the PMD riders into associations and to represesent the PMD riders to work with the authorities on how to make things easier for food delivery riders to do their job more smoothly and safely.
One was spearheaded by the boss-man of small local crisis management company and he had said frankly right from the start that he wanted to get involved because he saw a branding opportunity for his company. He has since decided to quit the project. He was working with PMD rider Kelvin Ho (Ho had referred to the boss-man as his “advisor”) and his exit means that Ho is now on his own. Due to Ho’s last minute pull-out from speaking at the Hong Lim Park rally, many PMD riders now have trust issues with Ho. As far as I can observe, there is no progress on the formation of an association for PMD riders.
Another one was by a PMD lady-rider, the same one who was involved in organising the Hong Lim Park rally and she is being advised and supported by Goh Meng Seng. They too have been trying to form an association, but they are struggling with even putting together 10 PMD riders above the age of 21 to form an executive committee. In fact, from what I can observe from the groupchat, they could not even decide on a consensus on when and where to meet up for discussion.
By now, you must be wondering by now what I am driving at.
Those who have been working behind the scenes
From the full month of observing the happenings and exchanges in different Telegram and Whatsapp chats, I can safely conclude that the PMD riders would be left hanging high and dry if they choose to work with people with their own personal agenda or people who are just trying to politicise the matter.
PMD riders have to drive the change themselves, and be prepared to work with the authorities, instead of working against them.
Also, all this time that the politicking and “wayang” are happening, there is a group of people who have been working behind the scenes to help the affected PMD riders.
If you’re amongst one of those people asking the following questions, I have some news for you.
- So where is NTUC in this?
- Why is it so silent and passive when it’s supposedly the legit labour movement of Singapore?
- Why hasn’t NTUC spoken up or done anything to help the PMD riders whose livelihoods have been disrupted, when even outsiders tried to start an association?
NTUC staff went to the ground to listen to the PMD riders at MPS
Yes, right after news broke that PMD riders were going to different MPS to give their feedback and to seek help from their MPs, NTUC had mobilised their staff to be present several MPS, including staff from NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).
They were there for actual ground sensing and also to better understand the views, challenges and problems of the PMD riders. For those who need help to find an alternative job, NTUC’s e2i staff were also on hand to lend help.
NTUC announced package to help PMD riders after listening to their woes
After spending a couple of weeks on the ground listening to the PMD riders and what some of their immediate needs are, NTUC and its partners put together financial relief and training services to help delivery riders who are no longer able to make deliveries using their e-scooters.
They announced it on 15 November, two weeks after the announcement of the ban,
1. The U FSE short-term relief fund for eligible PMD riders
Let’s first talk about the short-term relief fund.
NTUC’s U FSE (Freelancers and Self-Employed) Unit will provide financial relief to riders who are existing NTUC union members as well as new sign-ups. The fund aims to help eligible e-scooter delivery riders who are facing a sudden loss of income and are not able to take on other jobs as they are primary caregivers or have pre-existing medical conditions etc.
The assistance will come in the form of vouchers. E-scooter delivery riders who are existing NTUC union members will also be able to apply for $200 worth of Kopitiam or NTUC FairPrice gift cards. Meanwhile, new union members can apply for $100 gift cards.
From what I can see from the sharing in the NTUC PMD Help Telegram group, the application is easy and fast.
2. Membership reimbursement for eligible PMD riders
Other than the FairPrice and Kopitiam vouchers, all e-scooter delivery riders who are union members will also enjoy three months’ worth of membership reimbursement. This is co-sponsored by NTUC, foodpanda and GrabFood.
3. Training and Career Support for PMD riders
For riders who wish to continue this profession who are eligible to trade in their e-scooters, NTUC LearningHub will roll out suitable training programmes.
These programmes will include training in safety, service management and first aid. NTUC’s e2i is currently working with SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore to utilise existing training funds to cover course fees and training allowances.
For riders who are thinking to switch jobs, e2i can help riders identify and assess their skills gaps and thereafter, recommend suitable training and/or relevant job referrals to match them to new jobs.
4. Enjoy the Usual NTUC Membership Privileges too
All the existing programmes and privileges under the regular NTUC membership will be applicable to all members as well.
NTUC also wants to form an association for PMD riders
NTUC’s U FSE has also expressed its intention to be a representative voice for those who rely on e-scooters to make a living.
Application for short-term relief fund and membership reimbursement ends 31 December
So if you’re a e-scooter delivery riders, please make your way down to the Members’ Hub at NTUC Centre at One Marina Boulevard between 19 November to 31 December 2019. Or if you know of any food delivery PMD riders who may need some short-term relief help, or any who is thinking of a career switch, do help spread the word and let know them.
More info here.