Ride-hailing provider Grab announced today it has partnered with Singapore’s National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA).
NPHVA was established in May to represent the interests of private hire drivers, including those who drive for ride-hailing apps like Grab and Uber, private limos, and other chauffeured services.
“NPHVA seeks to safeguard the welfare and livelihood of private hire vehicle drivers and works with government authorities and other industry partners to address driving-related issues and concerns,” reads the association’s mandate.
The association is supported by Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), an organization that comprises several trade unions and professional associations in the country.
The partnership with Grab enables better collaboration between the company and the association. “NPHVA will serve as the voice of Grab drivers, helping to raise individual concerns and collective issues with Grab. [It] will also facilitate two-way flow of feedback between Grab and their driver,” the announcement states.
Under the deal, Grab will sponsor the dues for drivers who are interested in joining the association or continuing to be members in it. The monthly fee for members is US$7. Driver representatives will form a Grab-specific committee that will give feedback, share ideas, and bring up issues with the company.
NPHVA will serve as the voice of Grab drivers, helping to raise individual concerns and collective issues with Grab.
“Our partnership with NPHVA is a testament to Grab’s commitment to out-serve driver partners and further complements our Driver Sustainability Program to ensure higher and sustainable incomes, lower operating costs, and safety and well-being of drivers,” says Grab Singapore head Lim Kell Jay.
The Driver Sustainability Program is an initiative within Grab to offer drivers fuel discounts, hook them up with more passengers, and free personal accident insurance.
Grab, like Uber, doesn’t employ drivers who pick up passengers using its app (hence the term “driver partners”), so these professionals can’t unionize like traditional employees. While in other parts of the world it’s still an open issue whether these are employees or independent contractors, the NPHVA seems to be the closest thing to an organized body that represents their interests in Singapore.
In May, Uber entered into an agreement with the New York arm of the International Association of Machinists to represent the interest of its drivers in the city.
Benefits for drivers
“As the private hire market continues to expand and transform to meet the growing demands of commuters, we recognize the increasing need to ensure that this growing pool of private hire drivers are duly cared for, are fairly treated, and can continue to grow with the market needs,” said S Thiagarajan, NPHVA executive adviser, when the association was set up.
The organization has started providing educational workshops for drivers, including financial management, legal education, and issues like the upcoming vocational license that Singapore will impose on all private hire drivers. It also carries perks like mobile plan discounts, fuel, medical check-ups, vehicle insurance, and so on.
Since its inception, the association has built up a network of 1,500 drivers.
Converted from Singapore dollars. US$1 = S$1.36