Thirty down and only four more to go. 29 sent back to China and 1 sentenced to 6 weeks jail. Those who went home over the last two days got winter clothes from sympathisers as well as pro-rated ex-gratia bonuses. The one jailed will very likely get out after 4 weeks — good behaviour rebate — and be home in time for the Chinese New Year.
The four now in police custody will appear in court on Thursday. They are unlikely to get fewer than 6 weeks of jail time, going by what has been meted out to their compatriot.
The remaining — in both senses of the word — 137 (assuming the final tally of 171 illegal strikers provided by SMRT is correct) have been given warnings and allowed to stay and drive SMRT buses.
If anyone reading this is wondering whom I’m referring to, then wonder no more. I am talking about the bolshi bus drivers from China, who caused SG to be in global news headlines for all the wrong reasons!
Although there has been overwhelming sympathy from the usual oppose-PAP voices on and off the Internet, I’m glad to report that among some people I know, the sympathy is under-whelming.
As one said to me over dinner prior to our evening’s entertainment — the Bellepoque production of Another Murder on the Orient Express at the Arts House: “After all, didn’t the bus drivers sign an agreement with SMRT?”
Must have thought the SMRT offer was a good one compared to what they could get in China.
Arrived in SG, then found out others had higher take-home pay — with scant acknowledgement that the comparison isn’t apple for apple. Those with higher take-home pay take care of their own housing and transport costs to and from home. Not the China boys though. They are given dormitory housing and ferried to and from work. Someone has to pay for this, right?
The striking drivers also complained that the rooms they were given were bug infested.
The Ministry of Manpower confirmed thus: “Our officers found that bed bug problems were observed in some of the rooms occupied by the SMRT drivers. Occupants of each room are responsible for their own hygiene. The general housekeeping conditions of the rooms occupied by the SMRT drivers were also below par, compared to the other rooms in the dormitories.”
The MOM’s statement on the house-keeping issues left much to be desired. So, who caused the bed-bug problem? The occupants or the operator of the dorm? And if the occupants are supposed to be responsible for their own hygiene and the cleanliness of the rooms occupied by the SMRT drivers is sub-standard, then doesn’t it mean that the bed bugs and related issues shouldn’t and can’t be left at the employer’s door?
Still, I can understand MOM’s deliberate vagueness. In fact, the state in my view is not practising “zero tolerance”. IMHO, G and SMRT have been more than good about the matter.
But I guess it’s more about being pragmatic than being magnanimous. If the sudden loss of 34 drivers can cause some service disruption to the transport operator with need to summon relief drivers, think how much worse SMRT’s bus skeds could become if the whole bunch of 166 (excluding the 5 made to face the brunt of the law and won’t be driving in any case) were sent packing home in one fell swoop.
Actually, i can empathise. I see a huge parallel between G, SMRT and the China drivers and what I’ve been putting up from my mother’s domestic helper.
If it involved just me, I would have sent her packing within her 1st contract. But with an elderly parent in the second stage of dementia and a home that is too big to be maintained with a lick and a sweep, I have allowed my once zero tolerance of nonsense from staff during my full-time working days to deteriorate to grudging acceptance — in exchange for zero disruption to domestic life and living.
Hence, Picky is midway into her 3rd contract with no end to the growth of her pile of demands in exchange for a hard day’s work!
I foresee the same fate for all employers — especially those who can’t just move domicile to where labour know their place and are contented to remain there!