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Wage protest stalls SMRT

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SMRT’s bus services were temporarily affected yesterday when 102 bus drivers refused to go to work over pay disagreements.

SMRT said in a statement the drivers, who were recruited from China (PRC), were unhappy with the pay increment they received.

“We regret that they chose to express their unhappiness about their salaries in this manner, especially when our lines of communication with them are always open,” the spokesperson said.

According to The Business Times, the monthly starting salaries for PRC drivers were $1,000 and $1,200 for Malaysian drivers before a review in July. After the revisions, the salaries of Malaysian drivers went up to $1,350, while those of the PRC drivers were bumped up by $75.

The protests, which began at 3.30am, ended with talks between the relevant authorities at 6pm. SMRT said the workers have all agreed to return to work today.

The Ministry of Manpower assured the appropriate grievance-handling processes were in place and said it takes the “workers’ actions very seriously”.

“Workers are advised to speak to their human resources and management to discuss and resolve any employment-related issues amicably rather than take matters into their own hands,” a spokesperson said.

Kenneth Soh, a social worker with non-governmental organisation Transient Workers Count Too, told The Straits Times this incident has highlighted Singapore’s issue of foreign labour once more.

“Perhaps we need to relook at our salary policies, to attract more locals so as to have a lower reliance on foreigners,” he said.

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