I was not surprised about the big hoo ha about the illegal strike that the group of SMRT China bus drivers caused in the past week. A few friends & taxi drivers asked for my opinion about this issue. Here is my few cents worth on the issue.
I am of the view that both parties are at fault about this. Let’s dissect the issue into the drivers & the company, SMRT.
- The drivers should not compared their remuneration package with their Malaysian counterparts as the Malaysian drivers are hired on a permanent basis and are not provided with lodging benefits.
- The Malaysian drivers do have workers’ transport provided for them, which is the same as the PRC drivers. But according to my SBS Transit bus drivers’ friends, the workers’ transport for both SMRT & SBS Transit will pick them up from the JB customs at 3.45am, and that is the only trip that the workers’ transport would make. If the driver miss it, they would have to find an alternative way to Singapore to work. This is why most Malaysian drivers prefer to drive SBS Transit Services 160 & 170 or SMRT Service 950. Otherwise if they cannot get these services, they will get a motorcycle to enable them to commute between Singapore & JB and allow them to have an additional hour of essential rest. The extra pay is to cover transport cost or cost to maintain the motorcycle.
- The basic cleanliness of the bunk or dormitory should be the driver’s domain. The driver should try their best to maintain where they stay as clean as their house. Would you be able to stand if your own house is super dirty?
- As a employer, I would not have housed them in dormitories. I would have done what SBS Transit has done in housing them in HDB flats to allow them to integrate with our community. Housing them in dormitories will allow the drivers to discuss their grievances at work, therefore the illegal strike pops up. I am not surprised by the unity of the PRC drivers, who always address one another as 同乡 if they are from the same province.
- There was a lack of communication on the HR Department, which failed to communicate the finer points of the employment contracts to the PRC drivers, who definitely will have problem understanding the contract worded in English.
- The need to work 6 days instead of 5 days after a pay adjustment in July makes the whole pay increment looks like no increase in pay but more driving to be done and to what the drivers calculated and perceived to be lesser pay.
I wonder if any SMRT directors or SMRT PRC drivers reading my post on this?