KMB and LWB to hop on salary freeze bandwagon

Local | Erin Chan 10 Jul 2020

Sister companies Kowloon Motor Bus and Long Win Bus will freeze pay for all employees this year, citing an "unprecedented challenge" in the age of Covid-19.

The two bus operators have around 13,000 employees, including more than 9,000 drivers.

However, all salary increment points will remain unchanged and a one-off ex gratia payment of HK$2,000 will be distributed to all non-management level employees.

The bus operators said the arrangement came after the pandemic caused a significant drop in ridership.

"Coupled with a number of anti-epidemic measures such as the prohibition of group gatherings and travel restrictions, it is expected that the companies' ridership and revenues will not return to pre-epidemic levels in the near future," they said in a statement yesterday. They said the phased opening of the Sha Tin-Central Link and the 20 percent railway fare discount launched this month have further dealt a blow to the bus industry.

Their applications for fare increases in 2018 have also been withheld by the government, they said, and parent company Transport International had issued a profit warning in May.

The management teams of KMB and LWB have communicated with representatives from the KMB and LWB branch of the Motor Transport Workers General Union, as well as the Kowloon Motor Bus Workers General Union and its Long Win Bus branch.

"The companies thank all employees for their understanding of the companies . . . We look forward to working together with our staff members and continuing to provide passengers with safe, reliable and quality services," it added.

Lai Siu-chung, director of the Motor Transport Workers General Union's KMB branch, said the union had a three-hour meeting with KMB yesterday.

Lai said the one-off ex gratia payment took reference from KMB's arrangement during the SARS outbreak in 2003, in which a one-off ex gratia payment of HK$750 and HK$1,300 was distributed to employees in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

In April, Citybus and New World First Bus announced a salary freeze for one year due to the decline in passenger numbers and severe losses amid the pandemic, pointing out that various cost-cutting measures, government subsidies and fare adjustments could not help alleviate the situation.

erin.chan@singtaonewscorp.com

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