Strike in Singapore

Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Online Digest

Singapore Bus leaving Prison Compund

Strike in Singapore

A strike in Singapore is very rare occurrence. The Wall Street Journal says that Singapore’s last legal strike occurred in 1986 when workers at U.S. oilfield-equipment company Hydril picketed their factory for two days to protest the dismissal of several union leaders. Government officials had approved the strike in advance.


In a series of five articles the WSJ documents a strike by mainland Chinese bus drivers working for SMRT Corp a state-owned public transport operator. The Chinese workers wanted wanting parity of conditions with Malayasian drivers working for the same corporation. Around 112 drivers reported sick on two consecutive days in November 2012.


Migrant workers on fixed-term contracts make up about one-third of the labour force in Singapore. They are not permitted to become full union members. The workers were successful in getting the the company to respond to some of the grievances about pay, number of shifts and dormitory conditions.


However, the Singapore Government responded to what it called an illegal strike by the workers. On1st December, 29 drivers were taken to prison, had their work contracts and permits cancelled and deported to China. The Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Manpower said the 29 drivers had “disrupted our public transport which is an essential service, and posed a threat to public order.” They were “blatant and persistent in their unlawful acts,” the ministries said


Four of the workers were charged and put on trial for 'engaging in a conspiracy to instigate others to participate in a strike' In February 2013, three were given six week prison sentences and one seven weeks; they were deported after serving the sentences. The public prosecutors in the trial told the Judge that

It is thus vital that a deterrent signal be sent to dissuade others from committing similar offenses to obtain concessions from their employers, lest such conduct ultimately prove inimical to the well-being of the public.

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