SINGAPORE: Two construction workers from China who staged a sit—in atop tower cranes over a wage dispute last December have been sentenced to four weeks’ jail each.
Zhu Gulei, 24, and Wu Xiaolin, 47, pleaded guilty to criminal trespass on Thursday.
Present at the court hearing were representatives from the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME).
On 30 November 2012, Zhu and Wu told their employer that they wanted to quit and return to China, after having worked for the company for less than a year.
However, they were told that their pay would have to be deducted to settle water and electricity expenses.
The two men later told their project manager that they would complain to the authorities.
At about 6am on 6 December 2012, Zhu climbed up a tower crane, while Wu went up another crane about half an hour later.
The court heard that Wu went up on his own accord and did not see Zhu climbing up.
Zhu later called another construction worker, who then alerted the police.
He came down about eight—and—a—half hours later, following negotiations with the police and his employer, which included a demand for S$4,000.
Wu, persuaded by the police, came down after nine hours.
The prosecution said the two men caused inconvenience and delay in construction work, and wasted public resources, as the police, Singapore Civil Defence Force and Manpower Ministry had to step in.
It pressed for a strong message against the use of such stunts.
Lawyer Ravinderpal Singh, who represented Zhu and Wu pro—bono, said his clients were remorseful and "simply wanted to be listened to".
Mr Singh said: "The judge took into account all the mitigating factors and I think it was a fair sentence. They were quite contrite and sorry about what they have done, that is why they have pleaded guilty."
District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt agreed that a deterrence sentence is needed, adding that the two men should not have taken the law into their own hands.
MediaCorp understands that Wu and Zhu will each be reimbursed a month’s pay of S$2,000 by their company, Zhong Jiang International.