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SMRT did not brief FT drivers on labour law?

In Infrastructure on 07/12/2012 at 5:17 am

I’m glad that the four FT PRC drivers that are facing charges for instigating an illegal strike are going to get help from some civic-minded lawyers.

Following the guilty plea by one driver who it seems had no lawyer to advise him, I was dismayed.

I had heard via Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole that the PRC FT drivers had never ever been briefed on the labour law here: particularly that there was a procedure to be followed before striking. And that SMRT has no documentary evidence that it ever briefed its FT drivers.

So when I read that one driver had pleaded guilty, I tot it was unlikely that these issues,  assuming they were true, or even probable would be raised in public by the drivers.

Now that the remaining four charged drivers have legal advice, if these allegations are probable, they would be raised, in mitigation.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law. But ignorance of the law particularly when it is in a foreign language should be taken into consideration when passing sentence: especially if the employer did not brief its FT employees about the legal process involved in taking industrial action.

As to whether SMRT could have been so dysfunctional as not to brief its FT drivers on labour law, fact is that its HR department is pretty dysfunctional.  “MOM [Ministry of Manpower"] said it has reiterated to SMRT that labour and contractual grievances raised by the workers should be a priority and addressed quickly.” And after all, SMRT only introduced the following after the strike:

– “[T]old its drivers at the sessions that it has set up a 24-hour hotline for drivers to call if they have concerns or grievances”; and

– “They have also appointed liaison officers who can speak Mandarin to deal directly with the drivers, said SMRT.”

(CNA report)

Avoid the stock especially as SMRT’s focus on profit is one of the many factors why SMRT has been facing problems, according to its CEO Desmond Kuek. If the CEO talks like this, you can be pretty sure good dividend payouts are not one of his KPIs.

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  1. Has anyone looked into the regulations SMRT violated in this episode? (e.g. substandard housing, working conditions, corporate/labor laws, etc.) If so, SMRT violations must be dealt with swiftly. The PAP government threw the book at the workers.

  2. The high flying CEO had pocketed her millions and appear as another high flying CEO elsewhere,a new CEO is now experimenting his new private sector experience,what happens to our poor general public who do not have cars?Why not try Col Gan?he is President cum SAF Scholar ,a true high flyer with bitter private sector experience and running transport company.Col Gan is the man!

  3. [...] Furthering the case for nationalizing public transport – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: SMRT did not brief FT drivers on labour law? – Prata Politics: Public Transport Fare Increasing! – Chen Jiaxi Bernard 陈家喜 : [...]

  4. [...] Furthering the case for nationalizing public transport – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: SMRT did not brief FT drivers on labour law? – Prata Politics: Public Transport Fare Increasing! – Chen Jiaxi Bernard 陈家喜 : [...]

  5. I think this proves conclusively that we are still a third world country and not first world as the govt keeps telling us. When we continue to treat workers, whether local or otherwise, as mere digits and not humans, how can we ever be called a developed country?

  6. Sunday 9th Dec in the Sunday “S.T.” it stated the case of how much the drivers have to pay to agents who are both here in Sing and China as well, the amount quoted int he article was $5K on a two year contract. In following this case from the beginning, SMRT had earlier stated when asked about comparing salaries between the Malaysian drivers and the Chinese drivers stated that they difference was the accommodation they did not engage agents which according to today’s article equals almost 20% on basic pay for two years. who is telling the fib? (If it is SMRT then the China drivers definitely have a beef!)

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