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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

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SO much ink already spilled over the stop work/strike/dispute row that I don’t really have more to say about it. Chris Tan, though, had a quick piece on bus driver’s salaries in ST today which I thought put the salary issue in context.

I’ll go with some questions I have then and forgive me if they have already been answered.

a)     Where is the bus drivers’ union in all this? Did it have a long wrangle with SMRT over the differentiated pay rises before it came to this?

b)    Are the Chinese nationals represented by the union? Do they have the same access to union membership as others?

c)     SBS seems to have fewer problems with its Chinese drivers and it has so many more of them. It houses them in HDB flats, rather than dorms. What is the difference in salaries between SMRT and SBS for bus drivers, including the PRC drivers? (By the way, are those SBS flats another one of those that EM Services get from HDB to dole out at lower cost, as it did for the RWS foreign staff?)

d)    Differentiated salaries (foreigners versus locals/Malaysians) are allowed under Singapore’s employment laws – to what extent. After all, maids from different countries are paid differently.

e)     Is there a direct line that unhappy foreign workers have with MOM when it comes to wage issues, or is this a matter between management and workers?

f)      Is the case symptomatic of the different working culture of the Chinese? Besides the Panasonic case in August, I recall a few years ago that some construction workers wanted to stage a sit-in in Parliament house.

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g)     Do foreign workers know enough of Singapore’s employment laws to distinguish between what is legal and illegal. (I am not even going into the issue of having to give notice of an officially-sanctioned strike)

h)    What is SMRT’s role in all this? What sort of steps were taken to talk to the union and to the bus drivers, especially since the grievances have been circulating online for some time?

i)       Okay, the media reported ONE worker with bed bugs in the dorm, but bed bugs in a LEGAL dorm? What the SMRT/MOM checks on worker dorms like?

j)       I never really got to hear from the Chinese bus drivers on their grievances. Or seen their employment contracts,  I don’t suppose there is a spokesman of sorts among them or is there some kind of gag order imposed on them – Speak and be sacked?

k)    What do the Malaysian bus drivers say about being lumped as “non-foreigners’’? Is no one speaking for the Chinese drivers, besides the Chinese themselves?

l)       Why is SMRT so jinxed?

That’s my list for now.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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