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Bus Strike

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Postby zzm9980 » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 1:54 pm

v4jr4 wrote:
zzm9980 wrote:Yet another case on this forum "well it isn't happening to me, so freak them." :roll:

If any of us worked in any position with numerous equivalent peers, no matter whether we were happy with our opening contracts or not, we'd all be furious those equivalent peers received much better raises/bonuses solely based on race.

edit: And let me add the disclaimer that I'm generally anti-labor union, and often don't side with strikers. In this case though, not that I agree with them, but I don't necessarily disagree with them either. They're getting shafted, and just because other dis-similar groups of people may getting shafted more so is not valid justification.


Well, we got our own "freak" set. There are gentler way to clean those mess, and we don't have to drag other people down for that (unless if it's necessary). I understand that not all people comprehend "their house, their rule" kind of thing. But as for this strike, I wonder if they think about the consequences, rather than throwing out threats like "I'm going home".

Sh*t happens, no matter what :wink:


Their house/their rules:

For the bus drivers, I imagine they knew there was/is a good chance they'll be on their way back to PRC never to return.

For those of us who fail to find major fault in the drivers actions (like myself), this doesn't really apply, unless on of their rules is that I'm not allowed to have an opinion on this.

And who was dragged down in this? So the bus was delayed for some commuters? Boo freak hoo?

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Postby zzm9980 » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 1:55 pm

x9200 wrote:Even if true (what is not the case) how does this change anything?


What is there to change? I'm not quite sure what point you're arguing here. The bus drivers were not happy with their provided accommodation and perceived discrimination. They took an action that is likely illegal for their beliefs, and will received the appropriate punishment for it.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 1:58 pm

Several thing about this whole affair stink and all the pong is coming from SMRT and not the "striking workers"

1) SMRT commented early on that the reason PRC were paid less was because of the costs of recruitment and levies.

This is illegal from the start as MOM states it is illegal to recoup the costs of levies and accommodation from WP holders. Secondly, the whole premise is incorrect as the salary and the costs of employment are two different things, Costs of hiring people is not a wage item.

Accommodations were small, overcrowded and the amount that they were allocating cost wise, besides illegal, were much higher than the going rate.

2) The strikers did not follow the proper protocol to call a strike.

Technically, this is true, but as they were never invited to join the union, they would not have know anything about this. Additionally, they did follow protocol but were put off by their supervisors whom they had previously approached for help. The supervisors refused to escalate it up the chain of command.

3) What SMRT was doing was discriminating based on Nationality (Race) and this was reflected when the wage increases were given out. The same could have been said on the bonuses that they did not receive. Yet all did the same work, but were excluded because of their nationality.

While in the end, what was done by the strikers was wrong, the fact that they could not get any satisfaction or even an audience with the senior members of SMRT pushed them to that end.

I hope, in the end, SMRT gets one hell of a hefty fine and reprimand, but as it's government linked, we know that won't happen, although the fines meted out to the MRT operators does hold hope.

I also hope the workers are not sent home, but only given a reprimand as they were pushed into it by SMRT's unfair practices.

As the union did not bother to try to get them joined up on arrival, they should be forgiven for not knowing the proper protocol.

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Postby offshoreoildude » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 2:03 pm

I have been disheartened to see that Singaporeans did not get behind the striking workers. To strike is a fundamental democratic right - the 'withdrawal of labour' is a right we take for granted as free people. Singaporeans long ago lost that right and need to learn it again, and if that has to be from a bunch of PRC bus drivers, so be it.
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Postby v4jr4 » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 2:09 pm

zzm9980 wrote:And who was dragged down in this? So the bus was delayed for some commuters? Boo freak hoo?


I'm just assuming the strikers drag their own colleagues for strike :P

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Several thing about this whole affair stink and all the pong is coming from SMRT and not the "striking workers"

1) SMRT commented early on that the reason PRC were paid less was because of the costs of recruitment and levies.

This is illegal from the start as MOM states it is illegal to recoup the costs of levies and accommodation from WP holders. Secondly, the whole premise is incorrect as the salary and the costs of employment are two different things, Costs of hiring people is not a wage item.

Accommodations were small, overcrowded and the amount that they were allocating cost wise, besides illegal, were much higher than the going rate.

2) The strikers did not follow the proper protocol to call a strike.

Technically, this is true, but as they were never invited to join the union, they would not have know anything about this. Additionally, they did follow protocol but were put off by their supervisors whom they had previously approached for help. The supervisors refused to escalate it up the chain of command.

3) What SMRT was doing was discriminating based on Nationality (Race) and this was reflected when the wage increases were given out. The same could have been said on the bonuses that they did not receive. Yet all did the same work, but were excluded because of their nationality.

While in the end, what was done by the strikers was wrong, the fact that they could not get any satisfaction or even an audience with the senior members of SMRT pushed them to that end.

I hope, in the end, SMRT gets one hell of a hefty fine and reprimand, but as it's government linked, we know that won't happen, although the fines meted out to the MRT operators does hold hope.

I also hope the workers are not sent home, but only given a reprimand as they were pushed into it by SMRT's unfair practices.

As the union did not bother to try to get them joined up on arrival, they should be forgiven for not knowing the proper protocol.


Ah, finally a clear light. But due to these "stinky" notes, I wonder if someone will become the last scapegoat, just like the MRT breakdown incident.
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Postby Callput » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 2:14 pm

I think the mistake SMRT did is to take the PRC drivers on as "Employees" on their payroll. They should have just taken them on vendor payroll as other IT companies and banks do.

Everyone knows very well that employees are treated like gods while vendor payroll guys are treated like dogs when it comes to pays or bonuses, even though they are in the same role and department.But we never hear vendor payroll staff going on a strike as they know very well that legally they dont even belong to the client company.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 2:22 pm

I have to admit, I abhor labour unions. When unions get too much power, i.e., like they did in the UK and also in the US to the point of being able to cripple the economy then there is a problem. Additionally, I've never seen union members who actually came out ahead in the US aside from ahead, as in, we won the battle, but we lost the war.

When a union can shut down a country's oil production because of newspapers not being delivered to an offshore oil rig, then it's time to break the union's back (Australia back in the 1980's - when I was in the industry). However, on the flip side, a union that is in the gahmen's back pocket is just as bad as it doesn't have any balls. NTUC being the prime example.

How to handle a union? Lee Iacocca effectively broke the auto unions back in 1988 with the closure of the Kenosha, Wisconsin auto assembly plant. At the end of the day, the union had to agree or their member would have gotten nothing at all.

Unfortunately, Singapore, as usual claims their definition of "essential services" is the only correct interpretation of the bus services, which the UN does not agree with. I've been following this pretty closely.

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Postby nutnut » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 2:23 pm

If you don't like the wage, go get a job with someone who pays better. Don't sign a contract then expect to wangle your way out of it by threatening your employer.

I'd sack the lot of them personally, yes, their wage is low I wouldn't work for it, I certainly wouldn't take a job on such a wage and then strike cause I don't like it! I'd develop my skills (English/Work skills) and go get another job. I've done this before myself, we all started on a lower paid job than we are likely on now and this is down to what you accept and negotiate.

I don't have sympathy for the very fact that they have their own choice to take this job, as Taxico says, they knew the deal when they came here, they accepted the living situation and now they want it changed by having a tantrum? Pick up your toys and get back in your cot, or, get on your feet and get yourself a better paid job. That's your choice in this country and a mantra I've always lived by myself, NO ONE helps you in this life! Help yourself if you want to get somewhere.

Out of interest, what's the pay for a similar job in Shanghai or Beijing and would they get accommodation, food and living expenses?
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Postby kikeo » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 2:25 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Several thing about this whole affair stink and all the pong is coming from SMRT and not the "striking workers"

1) SMRT commented early on that the reason PRC were paid less was because of the costs of recruitment and levies.

This is illegal from the start as MOM states it is illegal to recoup the costs of levies and accommodation from WP holders. Secondly, the whole premise is incorrect as the salary and the costs of employment are two different things, Costs of hiring people is not a wage item.

Accommodations were small, overcrowded and the amount that they were allocating cost wise, besides illegal, were much higher than the going rate.

2) The strikers did not follow the proper protocol to call a strike.

Technically, this is true, but as they were never invited to join the union, they would not have know anything about this. Additionally, they did follow protocol but were put off by their supervisors whom they had previously approached for help. The supervisors refused to escalate it up the chain of command.

3) What SMRT was doing was discriminating based on Nationality (Race) and this was reflected when the wage increases were given out. The same could have been said on the bonuses that they did not receive. Yet all did the same work, but were excluded because of their nationality.

While in the end, what was done by the strikers was wrong, the fact that they could not get any satisfaction or even an audience with the senior members of SMRT pushed them to that end.

I hope, in the end, SMRT gets one hell of a hefty fine and reprimand, but as it's government linked, we know that won't happen, although the fines meted out to the MRT operators does hold hope.

I also hope the workers are not sent home, but only given a reprimand as they were pushed into it by SMRT's unfair practices.

As the union did not bother to try to get them joined up on arrival, they should be forgiven for not knowing the proper protocol.


Thanks SMS for the clarifications... It's hard to get any objective opinion about what is actually happening and the background of it when reading the "newspaper".

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 2:48 pm

nutnut wrote:If you don't like the wage, go get a job with someone who pays better. Don't sign a contract then expect to wangle your way out of it by threatening your employer.

I'd sack the lot of them personally, yes, their wage is low I wouldn't work for it, I certainly wouldn't take a job on such a wage and then strike cause I don't like it! I'd develop my skills (English/Work skills) and go get another job. I've done this before myself, we all started on a lower paid job than we are likely on now and this is down to what you accept and negotiate.

I don't have sympathy for the very fact that they have their own choice to take this job, as Taxico says, they knew the deal when they came here, they accepted the living situation and now they want it changed by having a tantrum? Pick up your toys and get back in your cot, or, get on your feet and get yourself a better paid job. That's your choice in this country and a mantra I've always lived by myself, NO ONE helps you in this life! Help yourself if you want to get somewhere.

Out of interest, what's the pay for a similar job in Shanghai or Beijing and would they get accommodation, food and living expenses?


While I generally agree with your first paragraph, the second one is where the problems start to surface. Most of us were not verging on abject poverty with someone throwing them a lifering. These people applied for a job but at the same time, the recruiters have sold them a bill of goods AND attached a price tag on it that could amount to upwards of 8,000 SGD for the 2 year contract. This means they have to stay here for at least 9 months before they see any money that is theirs at all. They are also at the mercy of the money lenders who, if they don't stay here, will take everything they have and put their families on the street, without a hope in hell. Recruiters are worse than loan sharks in those countries as what they are doing is legal.

Getting a job there in Beijing? You would probably have to be on a waiting list for 5 years in order to get a job there. A look at the factory cities like the one where iCrap is made will give you a good example. they work 16~18 hours a day, 7 days a week without ever a day off. They stay until they cannot stand it any longer and the either quit or kill themselves. They know if they quit, they'll not get back in as there are thousands camped outside the factory gates waiting for someone to do just that.

Of course, the recruiters gave a very rosy picture of working life here with clean spacious accommodations, a 5 day work week, overtime etc. After they got here, they found cramped filthy quarters (admitted finally by SMRT) their work week changed to a 6 day week without overtime and 6 to 8,000 in recruitment fees they will have to pay, regardless of whether they stay or not.

I say, we need to keep this to apples to apples and not apples to oranges. The situations are a bit different (understatement).

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Postby Barnsley » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 2:50 pm

nutnut wrote:If you don't like the wage, go get a job with someone who pays better. Don't sign a contract then expect to wangle your way out of it by threatening your employer.

I'd sack the lot of them personally, yes, their wage is low I wouldn't work for it, I certainly wouldn't take a job on such a wage and then strike cause I don't like it! I'd develop my skills (English/Work skills) and go get another job. I've done this before myself, we all started on a lower paid job than we are likely on now and this is down to what you accept and negotiate.

I don't have sympathy for the very fact that they have their own choice to take this job, as Taxico says, they knew the deal when they came here, they accepted the living situation and now they want it changed by having a tantrum? Pick up your toys and get back in your cot, or, get on your feet and get yourself a better paid job. That's your choice in this country and a mantra I've always lived by myself, NO ONE helps you in this life! Help yourself if you want to get somewhere.

Out of interest, what's the pay for a similar job in Shanghai or Beijing and would they get accommodation, food and living expenses?


I am assuming that they signed the the contract for employment in China otherwise it would have been quite tricky to get a work Visa. If when they arrived the accomodation provided is not what was stated then they have a genuine grievence do they not?
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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 3:08 pm

They will get their IPA before leaving China, so they arrive here pre-approved and are sent directly to MOM for processing. Where they stay the 1st night I have no idea, but the contracts are signed in China before they arrive here I'm pretty sure. Probably signed upon notification of IPA with a waiver if they fail their medical exam here. They are between a rock & a hard place and you know the local employers are not going to leave any maneuvering room upon stepping foot in Singapore.

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Postby zzm9980 » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 3:24 pm

offshoreoildude wrote:I have been disheartened to see that Singaporeans did not get behind the striking workers. To strike is a fundamental democratic right - the 'withdrawal of labour' is a right we take for granted as free people. Singaporeans long ago lost that right and need to learn it again, and if that has to be from a bunch of PRC bus drivers, so be it.


I did find irony in PRC citizens 'teaching' Singaporeans concepts of a free society.

Online comments on the whole affair range from Singaporeans actually agreeing with the strikers (Since it is anti-government) to Singaporeans disagreeing with he strikers (Since that is anti-foreigner), but very few having a strong opinion on what the workers actually did unless they felt their SMRT bus was delayed that day. I suspect thought at least some are pondering what happened. I wonder if this could be the spark that slowly starts the [Adjective for the country we're in]_[Season after new year] I don't dare actually type that phrase from my own IP :D

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Postby zzm9980 » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 3:27 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:I have to admit, I abhor labour unions. When unions get too much power, i.e., like they did in the UK and also in the US to the point of being able to cripple the economy then there is a problem. Additionally, I've never seen union members who actually came out ahead in the US aside from ahead, as in, we won the battle, but we lost the war.


Despite having a father who is now retired at a younger age than I can ever hope with a very cushy pension-for-life (or until the City of Chicago files bankruptcy), I also abhor unions. One only has to look at the monster they've become in the US.

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Postby nakatago » Thu, 29 Nov 2012 3:37 pm

zzm9980 wrote:
sundaymorningstaple wrote:I have to admit, I abhor labour unions. When unions get too much power, i.e., like they did in the UK and also in the US to the point of being able to cripple the economy then there is a problem. Additionally, I've never seen union members who actually came out ahead in the US aside from ahead, as in, we won the battle, but we lost the war.


Despite having a father who is now retired at a younger age than I can ever hope with a very cushy pension-for-life (or until the City of Chicago files bankruptcy), I also abhor unions. One only has to look at the monster they've become in the US.


As with most things, the excesses bring out the evil. Unions are supposed to give workers bargaining power for rights, not to squeeze their employers' nuts.

It won't be vastly different if companies didn't have regulations to keep them in check and start bleeding everyone dry. Case in point, big corporations in the Philippines exploit workers through creative use of avoiding unions through contractual positions.

In the end, everyone should just follow Wheaton's Law--"Don't be a dick."

BTW, I also appreciate the irony of the PRChinese striking against a corporation in Singapore.


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