Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Small Handful of Singapore Bus Drivers going on strike

The news that caught my attention was Singapore SMRT PRC bus drivers going on strikes over wanting better pay. They boycott work and demand for better pay, citing comparison with drivers from Malaysia and Indonesia. (Source: Channelnewsasia: SMRT wage protest sees no-show by 62 drivers)

I support the idea of fair treatment to employees and I do respect these drivers hard work. However that does not translate into support for these foreign residents' idea of holding any company ransom via boycott of work. It is not the case that they are employed without a formal contract. It is NOT that these drivers did not know how much they are paid and the working hours before they took on the job. They should also know the company reserve the right to give increments as they deemed fit. If these drivers did indeed not know, then they only have themselves to blame for not doing due diligence.

I have no love for unreasonable behavior nor people as such. Succumbing to their requests and behavior will only serve to open a floodgate of problems in future. Everyone can just go on protest and strikes everytime they decided that they dont like the pay they are getting for themselves, or their peers get better pay increment than them. It's unbecoming to adopt and condone such tyrant attitude to hold employers by their balls over personal gains as such. I do not have all the details and perhaps they do have valid grievances but is this the best way going forward?

Unless SMRT has changed the drivers terms and conditions unilaterally, I see no grounds to acceding to their protest. If these drivers are so unhappy, then by all means, have the guts and resign and search for better paying jobs with whatever skillsets they have and can boast of. The exit door is there, 24hrs/7days. They just need to walk through it, Dont be a coward and cling on to the seat and act like an adult cry baby. However if the company has indeed been inapproperiate and unfair in its dealing, it should admit its internal oversight and system flaw. If the changes are in accordance to skillsets, eg Malaysian/ SG drivers can speak more languages than China drivers thus the pay difference, then even such should be made clear with followup actions. One cannot employ an employee not meeting all the checklist and then turn around to deal them an unfair card either.

Previously, the saga of local bus drivers protests had merits. That was when the company went ahead to change the working hours resulting in worse off pay package and longer working hours. That I can completely understand the angle the employees were coming from. However, I believe that went through proper channel of communication.

No. This is not about nationality card. It shouldnt be either. The person who is driving the bus is a fellow HUMAN. It doesnt matter where he came from or the accent.

Regardless of origins, every employee should indeed not be shortchanged unfairly.
However, there is a distinct difference between an employer acting in bad faith versus drivers wanting a bigger share of wages.

I asked my friends if they rem what Heathrow Airport and British Airways are renowned for?
We have seen what happened to Foxconn in China.

Strikes is a vicious and deterimental viral behavior, regardless the reasons.
Is that what I want Singapore to be known for in future as well?
No. Not really.
It will not bore well.

So I hope SMRT does what it should do bounded within the legal confines.
Letting them go freely with no further repercussion or let them stay on with trust that the company will review the benefits ACROSS the board for ALL DRIVERS at the same time at the yearly, biannual or quarterly review. However, please do not condone such behavior and give in quietly without proper accountability to the public.

We are better society than that.


WhiteDusk said...

I think the Chinese drivers have housing provided whereas the M'sian drivers don't. Thus the difference in increment etc. That's hearsay but if that is true then I think SMRT didn't do anything wrong.

1) Rising cost of accommodation
2) Contracts are contracts. Its quite obvious that many SG companies employ foreigners simply because they demand a lower wage.

Nomad said...

Yeah I read about the provision of accommodation at the hostel but it was also said to be infested with beg bugs and rats? Not sure how true it is...how on earth do bed bugs get in? And apart from the PRC drivers, no other people complained about the infestation?

Personally I dont envy their position. It;s hard enough to work far away from home to try to earn a decent living. I have met some PRC drivers and granted they dont speak English, they are nice.

I generally have no great love for PRCs tourists. They are a fking disgrace alot of time with their crude and arrogant attitude at times. However, I dont really dont mind some of these blue collar staff at times...

My condo employ PRC drivers for the condo shuttle. They are nice and polite, and sticking to my HK culture of thanking the mini bus driver, I didnt see a problem to thank them after each ride. You can see the smile on their face. I really detest the attitude of SGporeans against these innocent drivers. Cold like a fish and no smiles, no thanks, no appreciation. However if the bus is late by 5 min, they grumble, complain and blah blah blah. fking hell.

I dont think the PRC demand a lower wages, but rather, SG companies suppressed the pay and these foreign workers are willing to accept a lower wage for whatever reasons known to them.

I agree with you that contract is contract. I saw the breakdown. PRC base $1000 while Msia and SG are ard $1300. However, PRC gets accommodation which is about $250 per month. Then on top, they get shuttle service. All on the whole package, its equal payment. Maybe though SMRT could give equal pay to bus driver and then let them see if they can find their own accommodation at $250/month.

Then again...i think the whole basic wage for drivers are TOO LOW!!!