Wednesday, November 28, 2012

5 ways SMRT could do to solve SMRT China Bus Drivers "Illegal Strike"

After Lim Sin Pang, Ng Boon Gay, Cecilia Sue, Amy Cheong, Alvin Tan Jye Yee, now Singaporeans are hotly discussing the SMRT bus drivers "no show" saga. I humbly offer my 5-cents worth of opinion on what SMRT can do to solve this saga.

1) Identify Leader of "Illegal Strike"
Since time immemorial, strikes, counter-strikes, rebels, attacks have been planned and orchestrated by a charismatic leader. SMRT should identify the leader in this "Illegal Strike" and name him publicly. The public naming of the leader is to account to the public and the shareholders of SMRT. Desmond Kuek, SMRT's leader who was Singapore's Chief of Defence, should be well-poised to handle this kind of situation.

2) SMRT conversation
When the 102 bus drivers assembled at the void deck of the condominium, they were not preparing for a "National Conversation" but what the drivers have done has given rise to the need for a "SMRT Conversation" for SMRT to engage its China-born drivers more deeply and to win their hearts and minds. Hence there should be some engagement sessions held at coffee-shops where the China bus drivers may usually gather to engage them.

Preferably, Desmond Kuek could take the lead to helm these "SMRT Conversation" dialogue sessions,with each session centering on a specific theme, like "What the bus drivers envision for their future and SMRT?" Some newspapers and magazines could be deployed during these sessions for the bus drivers to do some cutting and pasting to form some pictures of the future of themselves and SMRT.

3) Make China Bus Drivers apologize
Two days after the "Illegal Strike", I have not heard of any apology from any of the 102 SMRT bus drivers. I am not sure whether their non-apology is due to their thinking that "Why should we apologize? For hurting your sensitive feelings?" Nevertheless, the SMRT bus drivers must really apologize to Singaporeans for causing some inconvenience in the public transport service provided. At least, the leader of the group of 102 who orchestrated this whole "illegal strike" should come out and say a few words of apology in front of the press!

4) Form a Committee to review China bus drivers' salaries
I really believe arising from this incident, SMRT should quickly form a committee to review the salaries it is currently paying to its China bus drivers. The committee should comprise representatives from the various segments of the society and together they should come out with a formula to derive at the reasonable pay it should give to its China back drivers. This new pay should be backdated retrospectively with effect from 26 Nov 12, the date of the "illegal strike". While it may be difficult to set a definition of a reasonable pay for its China bus drivers, I believe that some kind of benchmarking could be made, e.g. peg the new starting salaries of the China bus drivers at some multiples of an entry-grade, hmm, say, arbitiarily at a BX (hmm, stands for Bus Executive) 900 salary of a bus driver back in China.

5) Fasten the pace of Leadership of SMRT Chief Communicatior
I believe I have really written a few articles on the need for SMRT to fasten its process of appointing its Chief Communicator after somebody, reportedly as I learned, turned down the offer. I have tossed around suitable names like Alan Tang and Michael Yap for this position. In this SMRT bus drivers "no show" saga, I can see that the communication of SMRT to the public has not very good, maybe it is really due to the fact that there is no SMRT Chief Communicator to make comments. If there is one, the SMRT Chief Communicator can be invited to Channel News Asia News Show to give his take on the "no-show" saga by popping up all the 3D or 4D images to explain the what, why, when, where and how of the "no-show". Also a top investment analyst could also be present during the show to explain to concerned SMRT shareholders of the impact of the SMRT bus drivers "no-show".

That is all, folks, my 5 humble points of suggestion to SMRT to manage this incident. Till now, I have not seen Desmond Kuek on TV to comment on this incident, hence I leave you readers on some videos of Desmond Kuek taken on the announcement of his post as SMRT's CEO:

on his first day of work at SMRT:

as well as his media interview with his team changing "sleepers" while Singaporeans were sleeping:

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