Singapore charges 5 Chinese nationals for bus driver strike
Singapore: Singapore will charge a Chinese national on Monday and deport 29 others for taking part in an illegal bus drivers` strike here earlier this week.
Four Chinese nationals, who were part of over 1,000 drivers employed by a local company operating public bus service, were the first to be charged last Thursday for inciting the strike on November 26 and 27.
Over 150 other drivers, also from China, would be let off with police warning letters for having participated in the strike, the first to be seen in Singapore in 26 years.
Announcing the latest action yesterday, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said, "The government has taken into account the roles that the bus drivers played in the strike action and also the recalcitrance of the bus drivers who had participated in the strike on the second day as well despite our efforts to persuade them to abort their plans and to return to work the following day."
The drivers were employed by SMRT - the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit - company which operates local subway and public bus services.
The 29 were now in custody, their work permits have been revoked and they will be repatriated.
Last Monday, 171 drivers refused to drive SMRT buses, alleging pay discrepancies with those employed from Malaysia.
Each Chinese driver was paid SGD 1,075 plus lodging on a contract basis while a Malaysian driver was paid SGD 1,400.
The Chinese drivers were also disgruntled at dormitory conditions, complaining about bedbugs.
Strike is illegal under Singapore law and one found guilty would face a fine of SGD 2,000 or a jail term of two years or both.
The government said the bus drivers` action had hit an essential service of the city-state and condemned it as an illegal strike, the first since 1986.
SMRT said the 29 drivers would be paid including ex-gratia bonuses on a pro-rata basis before they are repatriated.
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