Bus drivers’ ‘strike’ in Singapore

The bus drivers’ “strike” in Singapore today has been picked up by the foreign media. And no wonder. It’s so unusual. Strikes don’t occur in Singapore.The bus drivers employed by SMRT, which also runs taxis and commuter rail, are reported  to be from China. They are aggrieved because their Malaysian colleagues have been given bigger pay hikes, according to local media.

Protests and strikes are not unknown in China. But some on Twitter are expressing shock and anger at such an incident in Singapore. Some say they should be sent back to China. Many Singaporeans are unhappy about foreigners coming to work in Singapore. The National Transport Workers Union has urged the drivers to return to work.

Here’s the first overseas report I saw on Google News. It’s from the NZweek website.

SINGAPORE, Nov. 26 — More than 100 Chinese bus drivers working in Singapore took medical leave and refused to go to work on Monday over differences in a recent pay rise.

The online edition of local newspapers said the bus drivers employed by local public transport operator SMRT were unhappy that the Malaysian drivers received a pay increase of 275 Singapore dollars (225 U.S. dollars) with one month bonus pay, while the Chinese drivers got an increase of 75 Singapore dollars without any bonus.

And here’s what’s being reported and said on Twitter.

Bus drivers’ ‘strike’ in Singapore

Strikes are unknown in Singapore, but there’s always a first time. Two hundred bus drivers from China refused to go to work in Singapore on Monday because their Malaysian colleagues have been given bigger pay hikes.

Storified by Abhijit · Mon, Nov 26 2012 03:00:11

200 SMRT bus drivers refuse to go to work over pay issueAbout 200 SMRT bus drivers refused to go to work early Monday morning and instead assembled at their dormitory in Woodlands. The drivers,…
http://mrbrwn.co/S6SbUZ ST: "200 SMRT bus drivers refuse to go to work over pay issue" Ah Gong don’t allow you to use the word "Strike ah?"Kinmun Lee
Dear Singapore mainstream media: can we just call a spade a spade and use the word ‘strike’ instead? http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC121126-0000100/SMRT-bus-drivers-who-refused-to-go-to-work-in-talks-with-management#.ULNAEwa1IzY.twitterAmanda Lee
BREAKING: Some 200 SMRT bus drivers have gone on strike over salaries. Stay tuned for updates.TODAY
Police stationed outside the Woodlands dormitory of SMRT bus drivers who went on strike over a salary dispute. Photo: http://pic.twitter.com/CxzS1xHCTODAY
Wow!! PRC drivers working for SMRT go on strike! First time I have heard of strike in Singapore….Shiddu
Lol 200 PRC SMRT bus drivers went on strike today.. because they are unhappy of Malaysian bus drivers drawing higher salary -.-ⓙⓐⓥⓘⓝⓞⓛⓞⓖⓨ™
Seriously all those 200 china smrt drivers, think this is their own country is it? Any how protest.ヨナタン 乔纳森
200 SMRT bus drivers refuse to go to work over pay issue http://bit.ly/U6LEcG If we give in doesn’t this mean there will be more strikes?Jade Chen
Good on the SMRT bus drivers to stand up for what’s right instead of letting their employers have free rein. #SMRTstrikeKirsten Han
#SMRTstrike: Negotiations with SMRT management started around 4pm. Police are present for law & order and are not involved in negotiationsTODAY
JUST IN: National Transport Workers’ Union says Chinese SMRT bus workers are not union members, urge them to return to work immediatelyChannel NewsAsia
Still no comment from SMRT HR? I find it hard to believe that they base their wages on nationality. Is there more to the story? #busstrikeFaith Yoong
I think it is unfair for SMRT to differentiate benefits based on nationalities. But maybe there’s more to the story. http://bit.ly/TfQRxALeonard Chong