Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 11/27/2012 03:12 | By Channel NewsAsia

SMRT concludes talks with no—show bus drivers

SMRT concludes talks with no—show bus drivers

SMRT concludes talks with no—show bus drivers

SINGAPORE: Talks between SMRT management and its 102 bus drivers who refused to report for work on Monday have concluded.

According to workers Channel NewsAsia spoke to, SMRT management has indicated that the company will come back with a reply in approximately a week’s time.

It is also understood that the 102 workers have agreed to return to work on Tuesday.

A spokesman for SMRT said the bus drivers involved were from China and that earlier reports saying nearly 200 bus drivers were involved were incorrect.

SMRT also revealed in a statement that the no—show was triggered by unhappiness over a recent salary increment given by the company.

According to residents living in the Woodlands dormitory where the bus drivers are staying, the drivers had refused to leave for work at 4am Monday when several SMRT buses arrived at the dormitory to pick them up.

Several bus lines were affected, said the SMRT statement.

Officials from SMRT headquarters arrived at the dormitory on Monday morning.

Talks began at about 4pm and lasted for approximately two hours.

SMRT had offered to bring the workers to a bigger meeting room for negotiations. The workers however refused to leave the dormitory.

About 50 bus drivers were involved in the talks.

An SMRT spokesperson said that drivers who were not rostered to work on Monday were requested to work as a result of the no—show by the 102 drivers.

SMRT in its statement said that it "regrets that (the drivers) chose to express their unhappiness about their salaries by not reporting to work today".

The company also apologised to commuters who were inconvenienced by the affected bus services.

Separately, the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) issued a statement that said the union could not represent the affected workers as they were not union members.

NTWU urged the workers involved to return to work immediately and added that the union was prepared to help in negotiations between SMRT management and the workers if both parties welcomed its involvement.

The Ministry of Manpower also said in a statement that it took the workers’ actions very seriously and that it was looking into the matter.

Labour relations officers from the ministry were also on site at the Woodlands dormitory during negotiations.

SMRT said that relevant authorities have already been informed about the situation, adding that the company has been hiring bus drivers from China since 2008.

— CNA/jc

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