• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 11:40pm

China 'highly concerned' as four bus drivers face court in Singapore

Beijing says it hopes all sides will respond to the workers' 'reasonable requests for equal pay'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 December, 2012, 3:55am

China said it was "highly concerned" about the arrest of four of its citizens by Singaporean authorities for their role in a labour protest, the island's first strike since the 1980s.

The Chinese nationals were charged in court on Thursday with instigating an illegal strike this week by bus drivers at state-linked transport group SMRT, according to court filings. Police arrested the four after the company said more than 170 drivers from China failed to report for duty on Monday and 88 halted work on Tuesday, disrupting some bus services.

"The Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese embassy in Singapore are highly concerned about the case," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in Beijing yesterday. Officials had been in "close communication" with the Singaporean authorities, he said.

The Ministry of Commerce said it was very concerned about the dispute and hoped that all sides would respond to the workers' reasonable requests for equal pay and treatment.

"All parties should properly handle it to maintain the legitimate interest of Chinese contract workers," its statement said.

Singapore quelled the rare labour discord this week, reinforcing a decades-old focus on avoiding what the government calls "adversarial and confrontational" industrial relations. The last legal strike was in 1986.

The drivers could be jailed for up to 12 months or fined a maximum of S$2,000 (HK$12,600) if convicted.

One of the drivers was also charged with inciting the strike with a post in Chinese on Baidu, China's most popular search engine, entitled: "The insults and humiliations suffered by Singapore Drivers (SMRT)," that asked: "Where is the dignity of the People's Republic of China bus drivers?", according to the court document.

Strikes in Singapore are illegal for workers in essential services unless their employers are given two weeks' notice, according to the Manpower Ministry.


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This article is now closed to comments

1) i do not have a "maid" unlike u who treat their domestic helpers like slaves or maids.
2) in HK, we give all domestic helpers, regardless of their country of origin or race, the same deal. To do otherwise would be against the law.
In civilised countries, the discriminatory practices in SMRT is simply not possible. lo-cn, u are lucky to be a singaporean, spare a thot for those who have to travel afar for a living. it is most despicable for u and yours to exploit these people.........................
Respect the law of the country unless politicians, country leaders and what not(as in China) are bending it and absolutely have no regards of. No one above the law. The swift action of the Singapore authorities commands respect.
From a total cost perspective Chinese and Malaysia workers are paid the same. Chinese workers have free lodging while the Malaysian don't. Malaysian are also permanent staff and the Chinese are contract workers.
There is no issue with the discrepancy.
Yea, the "free lodging" consists of beehive dormitories. Chinese workers are paid much less, and also don't get the yearly bonus.
You fail to mention that the Malaysians are gettng a LESS favourable deal than the local Singaporeans!
Well, does your domestic maid at home lives in the master bed room?
Citizenship always has its privileges. Guest workers disappear with the earliest signs of trouble. Singaporeans have to stay back to defend the country.
Before being concerned about another country’s system of injustice against Chinese citizens, perhaps China needs to look closer to home where they can actually do something about it. How about starting with the one this week where Chen Guangcheng’s nephew Chen Kegui has just been sent to prison for 3 years for defending himself when his home was intruded by a gang of police in the middle of the night illegally? Is China really interested in protecting the injustices, rights and dignity of its people?
"Before being concerned about another country’s system of injustice against Chinese citizens, perhaps China needs to look closer to home where they can actually do something about it." How about giving the migrant workers and their children the same right to medical care, education, and other benefits the local citizens enjoy? After all, they are all Chinese citizens, whether they are from rural or urban regions.
Original bloomberg story here: ****www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-30/china-expresses-concern-as-singapore-charges-bus-drivers.html
Still, the disparity in pay between the malaysians and chinese (reason behind the strike and MAIN point of the story) is found only in para 14.
One more excellent comment here by an indian commentator:
1 more link here:
spells out clearly WHY the workers are striking.



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