Singapore sentences China national for bus drivers' strike
Singapore: A Chinese immigrant bus driver was sentenced to six weeks' jail today by a Singapore court for his involvement in the city states' first labour strike in 26 years.
Bao Feng Shan, 38, admitted that he committed the offence on November 26 and refused to return to work the next day though he was advised to do so by his company, SMRT - Singapore Mass Rapid Transit - and the Manpower Ministry.
Calling for a deterrent sentence of six weeks' jail, Deputy Public Prosecutor Peggy Pao pointed out that the strike had caused "considerable public disquiet".
Four other Chinese nationals, who were working with SMRT alongwith Bao, were still in custody for organising the strike. The four will appear in a court on Thursday.
During sentencing, Senior District Judge See Kee Oon said the strike was calculated to cause obstruction and inconvenience to transport services.
Yesterday, Singapore deported 29 other drivers, all from China, while 150 others have been freed with Police warning letters, for being part of the strike held November 26 and 27.
In total, 171 Chinese nationals working as bus drivers participated in the strike, alleging pay discrepancies with those employed from Malaysia, who are being paid SGD1,400 on contract basis compared to SGD1,075 paid to Chinese drivers.
The Chinese drivers were also disgruntled at dormitory conditions, complaining about bedbugs.
SMRT employs over 1,000 Chinese nationals for driving public buses.
Strikes are illegal in Singapore for workers in "essential services" such as transport unless they give 14 days' prior notice and comply with other requirements.
Under Singapore law, anyone found guilty would face a fine of SGD2,000 or a jail term of two years or both.
Labour-short Singapore depends on hundreds of thousands foreign workers, mostly employed on contract basis.
Singapore witnessed the last labour unrest in 1986 by shipyard workers.