11/27/2012 13:06 | By Ang Kai Fong

HAVE YOUR SAY: SMRT bus drivers' wage protest

What are your thoughts on the 102 Chinese drivers' staged work stoppage on Monday?

102 SMRT bus drivers' protest over pay

In a rare case of labour protest in Singapore, over 170 disgruntled mainland Chinese SMRT bus drivers refused to take the wheel on Monday as they protested a disparity in pay between them and other foreign bus drivers.

Besides inconveniencing commuters and other drivers who had to be called in as replacements, the work stoppage staged yesterday also triggered a strong response in the online space following media reports.

While many users’ immediate reaction was to question if the Chinese workers’ protest in pay would be considered a “strike” – a word almost unheard of in this context in Singapore – others were more concerned about the possible actions SMRT would take, and if this could point to the beginning of a slippery slope. 

Among them was Facebook user Charlene Yang, who said she “never expect such things to happen in sg (sic)”.

Commenting on xinmsn’s page, Yang wrote, “I hope smrt can sack all who went on strike. Else we will probably be seeing other staffs from other organisations going on strike too... they might think that going on strike is the way to go for higher pay.”

Keith Timothy, who wrote on Channel NewsAsia’s Facebook page, agreed, saying that “If the police allow such precedence of a strike, we can anticipate more of such unruly behaviour in the future.”

Another user Shafiq Rahman questioned the “double standard”, asking “why the China bus drivers (were) not arrested for holding this illegal strike when Singaporeans (will be) arrested for holding a strike”.

“Before these PRCs demand for better pay, they should ask themselves if they're better than other drivers,” Philip Wong added. “Most can't speak English at all, while some drove recklessly. We passengers have to tolerate their poor service standard, yet they have the audacity to strike.”

Despite the many critics, however, there were some who felt the need to look at the other side of the coin before passing their judgement.

“Maybe the workers do not have a representative to speak up for them thus they put up a strike. Even though their actions may not be right, I guess to a certain extent we do need these Chinese drivers as our bus companies are not providing high enough salaries & these drivers have to wake up at wee hours & work late too,” Facebook user Karen Lim reasoned. “I guess sometimes we need to be humane & grateful to the immigrant workers.”

Echoed Grace Chai, “Yes they are cheap labour, but if they were treated unfairly or (made to) work like slave… it's their right! They are human beings too!”

Earlier, a post entitled “Chinese drivers have awakened” written in Chinese and shared on a Chinese community forum also made its rounds on Facebook Monday evening.

In it, the discontented bus driver wrote of SMRT’s alleged unfair treatment of Chinese workers. He claimed that not only were they excluded from an earlier salary increment on Nov 23, they were made to work longer hours without prior notice.

“Why are we the only ones who are not compensated? Why do you break your promises time and again? You only know us as China nationals but fail to recognise that we are a part of MRT (sic), one of the many drivers working hard to serve the public everyday,” he shared.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What's your take on the SMRT bus drivers' wage protest? Sign in with your Windows Live/ Hotmail ID below, and post your thoughts now!

Nov 26, 2012 11:55PM
Be firm. Get them out of Singapore. Teach them a lesson. They choose to take up this job. Singapore did not force them to come here. They can leave if they are not happy or they can go to other place/country who can offer a better package. Do not let them create trouble in our country. If we give in, wonder what's next? 
Nov 27, 2012 12:33AM

I believe all this were made known to workers that any grievances can be brought to MOM, My question how come they are entertained when they have broke the law. As we Singaporeans have known that STRIKING is against the law and I believe we will be arrested regardless of what the matter is. Many of us Singaporean here are unhappy with our wages too and as Singaporeans we feel like living in a foreign land since the day aliens arrive, so we can strike too!!! This is our country. And we don't do that but how come people from other country is began to be so daring to do so!!!! The poor construction Bangladesh ,Indian,Thai and China nationality also have grievances but they did not strike .They knew if they had done that, their work permit will be revoked. So as for the SMRT drivers they had break the law and  has to face consequences. Trust me if the drivers are let off, we as Singaporeans are going to STRIKE TOO!!!





Nov 27, 2012 12:55AM

I agree. If they got what they want after this protest, whenever they are not happy with something regarding their jobs, they will protest again. I agree with Singapore My homeland :D

Nov 26, 2012 11:54PM
People from other countries have to learn the law by law way if they come to Singapore. No protest please, but can complain.
Nov 27, 2012 2:18AM

This is a wake up call for our' gov' which bring in what so call FT. Let see what 'gov' have to say right now. ?? Are we going to adapt their China Culture in SIN ..

Right now I rather the Transportation is slow . Sacked them all.

SG style." NO Strike"

Nov 27, 2012 12:49AM
Sacked all 102! Do not tolerate all these nonsense in Singapore or else more of such things will happen in the future as we have too many foreign workers here. This time in transport... Next will be construction site, etc... Do not give in or else we will be encouraging them to go on strike if they are unhappy!
Nov 27, 2012 3:09AM
Send them back and employ Singaporean, pay abit more to Singaporean to save our own country and live in peace. All these FT agreed to work on these amount of wages before they come to Singapore and now they protest??? What the hell they think they are, VIPs!!
Nov 27, 2012 4:16AM
Send these guys home and ban them from coming back here.  People need to know this is Singapore and not China and we do things very differently.  Imagine what happened to the thousands waiting for the buses in the morning. We need to maintain decency in Singapore.
Nov 27, 2012 3:27AM
Follow what was done for SIA pilots who went on strike in the 1970s...

Either return to work, or get fired...

Let's see what the "approach" is, this time round in 2012...

Nov 27, 2012 3:58AM
Send them home packing as it is illegal to strike in SG and their terms will never be on par with locals. Give in and you will be seeing more industrial action not only from China workers but all other foreign workers including maids...and Singaporeans too. The ramification is astounding! I would rather do without service than to be held at ransom.
Nov 27, 2012 12:55AM
hahaha... this is just the beggining... good job to the gvot for bringing in millions of those communist here...we singaporeans have been underpaid for decades.. if compare our salary with the MPs & Ministers lagi worse..... can we go on strike too?
Nov 27, 2012 12:19AM

Protest & violent: ingredients of Chinese Communist education.


Import less of such ingredient to SG, pls.

Nov 27, 2012 12:24AM

As a result on day of protest, many workers reporting late to work place.

Charge protester  to the court and ask them to pay the economy damage.

Nov 27, 2012 3:15AM

I think we are beginning to experience some of the ill affects of overly dependant on foreign workers.

Don't get me wrong; I am NOT saying we can afford to do away with foreign workers because we do need them. However, foreign  labour may not, and will not always remain as cheap labours. And if cost is the only reason we engage them, we have to rethink about it. Secondly, we also need to deal with the current saga expediently, such that, we must send a clear signal to the  foreign working community that that is no way to "demand what they wanted" even if their request were reasonable. Not in SIngapore at least. There are proper channels and the authority must make clear these channels to them clearly so that they know their right and do the right thing.

Nov 27, 2012 7:23PM
These people are ungrateful. They got a job and have increament, yet still make so much noise. I with a job but no increament. Boss will say either I live with it or door is over there. If they can find a better job in their hometown, you think they will come. Why compare with Malaysian? when during recuit, they are already being inform what they will be expecting. If wants to compare, why so many FT come to Singapore with more than 3K a month, yet I singaporean is taking less than 3K. Am i suppose to get do a workout as well?
Nov 27, 2012 8:30AM
MOM cannot give in to their demand. We only sympathised with them but not their action. We have years of harmony until this FT comes in and do what they like. They think the govt owes them when they were enlisted to work here or owes them a PR status. We may need those who really wants to be a Singaporean and struggling to be one. Once again stand up for Singapore. Many Singaporeans wants to be a bus driver but they cannot take the long hours. Maybe SMRT & SBS Transit can consider employing part-time drivers (Singaporean & PRs) to relief the drivers from over clocking.
Nov 27, 2012 12:26AM
Once SMRT gives in.... Is the end of Singapore.... More FT will start to protest. This credit will actually goes to Singapore Government....
Nov 27, 2012 6:58AM

I knew this problem was coming our way .

Work same hours , same job but different pay scale...sure to raise a problem especially for some China workers.

If they wanted to make matters worst, they would burn the fleet of busses.

We have to be careful to draw the line on the terms of employment.

Cheaper does not mean better .

Nov 27, 2012 9:17AM

I am not concerned about what triggered the strike. My concern now is will these China bus drivers ensure the safety of our loved ones using the buses. How ever this issue is settled there will be some kind of resentment. What's to stop the driver from crashing a full bus load of passengers over Benjamin Sheares bridge into the Singapore River. Or smashing 2 buses in a head on collision killing or injuring our loved ones. If they have the guts to go on strike against the might of the PAP government I believe they will do something to show their frustration.

Nov 27, 2012 2:05AM
We are a civilised people living in a civilised society. I think we should do the civilised thing and investigate if their reasons for being unhappy are valid, rather than just jump to conclusions and pile on the hate. At the end of the day, they are humans and workers too.
If they truly are being exploited, then something should be done about it. I understand that we have to tolerate a crowded Singaporean environment where jobs are harder to come by these days. It is not our fault! But hate-mongering based on their nationality does us no good. Remember that we had our fair share of the racial riots back in the day as well.
No one is condoning their behaviour but it did get the job done by grabbing our attention. Unfortunately, however, it seems to be used to stir up nationalistic and xenophobic sentiment.
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