Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 04/20/2013 18:27 | By Channel NewsAsia

Officers acted professionally in dealing with SMRT drivers’ petition and illegal strike: Tan Chuan-Jin

Officers acted professionally in dealing with SMRT drivers’ petition and illegal strike: Tan Chuan-Jin

Officers acted professionally in dealing with SMRT drivers’ petition and illegal strike: Tan Chuan-Jin

SINGAPORE: Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said his officers had acted professionally in dealing with the petition raised by SMRT bus drivers from China in 2010, and with the illegal strike last November.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) was responding to various allegations made by ex-SMRT bus driver He Jun Ling and publicised in Yahoo! Singapore.

In a strongly worded statement on Saturday, Mr Tan said the attempts to cast doubts on the Ministry's officers’ professionalism are unfounded, irresponsible, and contrary to public interest.

He added there is no place for spurious allegations from individuals who break the law, disrupt tripartite cooperation, and cast doubts on the integrity of civil servants, nor from those who abet others in these activities.

The Ministry also took issue with Yahoo! Singapore articles which featured an interview with He making unsubstantiated claims against MOM officers.

MOM said Yahoo! Singapore failed to verify the facts with the Ministry before running the story.

Thirty-two-year-old He, had alleged that MOM neglected issues raised by a group of SMRT Chinese bus drivers in 2010.

MOM said the facts clearly contradict He's allegations.

When MOM officers investigated the petition, it was made clear to the drivers that MOM would only be able to address statutory issues that were in breach of the law.

One potential statutory issue raised was the conditions of the drivers' accommodations.

MOM officers inspected the relevant dormitory but found no irregularities in housing conditions.

Another issue raised was the non-payment of bonus.

MOM officers investigated and found the drivers' contractual terms with SMRT did not mention any bonus.

This was also a non-statutory issue.

MOM informed the drivers' representatives of its findings, and also met then-SMRT Chief Executive Officer Saw Phaik Hwa in April 2010 to highlight the points raised in the petition, and requested SMRT to address them.

MOM said in fact, these issues were dealt with some time before He even joined SMRT.

He also alleged that although MOM officers were present to negotiate a settlement for the drivers on the first day of the illegal strike on 26 November last year, none turned up to resume negotiation on the next day.

He also claimed that MOM did not inform the drivers that what they were doing was against the law.

MOM refuted these allegations.

It said its officers responded promptly on 26 November after receiving information that a group of SMRT drivers had refused to report to work.

MOM officers intervened and facilitated a dialogue between both parties.

At the dialogue, MOM also advised the drivers there were proper channels for them to raise their unhappiness over contractual issues, and that their action of not going to work was wrong.

However, on 27 November 2012, a significant group of drivers chose not to return to work.

It was later established that He was one of the key instigators behind this illegal strike. - CNA/ck

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