Protesting Chinese workers held in Singapore

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 7:26pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 9:35pm

Two mainland Chinese workers who staged a high-rise protest atop construction cranes in Singapore over unpaid wages have been arrested and could face imprisonment, police said Friday.

In the second industrial incident in Singapore involving restive Chinese workers in less than two weeks, the pair clambered up two 10-storey high cranes to highlight their demand for payment of back wages before their return home.

Rescuers coaxed the two men down after more than four hours of negotiations and they were arrested soon after, police said.

“The two men were arrested for unlawfully remaining at the place and intentionally causing alarm. They can expect to face imprisonment, fine or both upon conviction,” a police statement said.

The crane protest came 10 days after Chinese bus drivers staged a wildcat strike at state-linked transport firm SMRT – tightly-controlled Singapore’s first strike since 1986.

Twenty-nine of the drivers have been summarily deported to China and four others are on trial for staging an illegal strike, an offence punishable by up to a year in prison and fines.

A fifth driver has been jailed for six weeks after pleading guilty.

International rights groups have condemned Singapore’s handling of the strike and called on authorities to drop all charges against the accused.

The industrial disputes have highlighted Singapore’s heavy dependence on migrant workers to drive its economic growth amid a labour shortage resulting from falling birth rates.