HAVE YOUR SAY: SMRT bus drivers' wage protest
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!
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!!!
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
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"
Either return to work, or get fired...
Let's see what the "approach" is, this time round in 2012...
Protest & violent: ingredients of Chinese Communist education.
Import less of such ingredient to SG, pls.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.