Chinese Bus Drivers Strike in Singapore November 2012

The hottest news in last week is the 171 Chinese bus drivers strike from SMRT on last Monday. Their purpose is very simple. They just want to get the same salary and bonus as other foreign bus drivers. As they said, they didn’t expect to get the same remuneration as Singaporean drivers, but all foreign drivers should earn the same pay. First, let’s see what the different in payment between Chinese drivers and Other Drivers.

Difference between the wage packages of the drivers in SMRT 2012
Chinese Driver Malaysia Driver Singaporean Driver
Wage after October S$1075 S$1400 S$1775
Bonuses one month salary + exgratia (one month salary) after two years services one month salary + Annual Salary Supplement unclear
Lodging and Utilities Subsidies S$275 none none

It is so clear that Chinese drivers are absolutely underpaid. As one Chinese driver who joined the strike on Monday said: “We work the same number of hours as Malaysian drivers, we should receive the same remuneration.” That is true. We really need to think about carefully why only Chinese drivers are underpaid.

Chinese drivers are deserving some sympathy. However, their behavior was still illegal. Strikes are illegal for essential services unless they give the employer 14 days of notice of the intent to go on strike.

Where can Foreign Works Ask For Help?

For foreign works who are working in Singapore, they can approach the manpower ministry or the Migrant Workers Center for assistance.

Result of SMRT Drivers Strikes

All the Chinese works were back to work on last Wednesday, except four of them were charged on Thursday evening. Though this incident is over, we still need to consider the Singapore economic system. Currently, there are 1.49 million foreign works in Singapore. Singapore’s dependence on unskilled foreign labor is “a big social issue” which yields more problems that the government needs to address. This time, the strike have demonstrated the potentially serious vulnerabilities that arise from Singapore’s significant reliance on low cost foreign labor. Could this strike be viewed as a sign to the end of an era of low wages?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *