BUS drivers employed by SMRT will take home more pay for shifting to a six-day week.

Singaporean drivers will get up to $175 more a month, while non-Singaporean drivers will earn up to $75 more a month.

SMRT employs about 1,900 bus drivers, roughly half of them Singaporeans.

It is the third pay adjustment for drivers this year, after two other adjustments in May and July.

The two most recent increments mean that Singaporean drivers will get up to $400 more in total, while non-Singaporeans will get up to $175 more.

Since July, the operator has required bus drivers to work six days a week instead of five, and they were paid between $75 and $250 more a month in return.

SMRT said the move was introduced to meet the manpower requirements of the Government's new bus service enhancement programme and to keep workloads sustainable.

This $1.1 billion programme includes 40 new routes to reduce crowding and increase frequency.

In August, a small group of five bus drivers appealed to labour chief Lim Swee Say, saying they wanted to go back to their five-day work week.

Their key concern was a comparative fall in total pay because on their original five-day schedule, they could earn more by working a sixth day with overtime pay.

The National Transport Workers' Union said that it had been in discussion with SMRT and was pleased with the negotiated outcome.

"This is a very significant and substantial increase in salaries for the service leaders (bus drivers) in many years," said its spokesman.

She added that the package was "generally fair" and commensurate with the move from five to six days with working hours remaining unchanged.

SMRT said it will backdate the latest increment to July. The starting pay of a Singaporean bus driver is $1,625 a month, and the gross monthly pay range is between $2,400 and $2,900.

The company's new chief executive, Mr Desmond Kuek, said in a statement yesterday: "We are committed to looking after the morale and well-being of our service leaders.

"They work hard on the roads each day to ensure commuter safety and a high customer service quality."