Monday, November 26, 2012

SMRT Bus Drivers “AWOL”

I was surprised and taken aback that 102 SMRT bus drivers, from China refused to work today (26 Nov 12) due to unhappiness cited over their pay. From what I could recall, this incident is really one of the very very such cases that could happen here in law-abiding Singapore in decades. I deem such “AWOL” for work by the bus drivers tantamount to the drivers going on a strike. SMRT bus services being public service providers should take a very serious view of this incident.

I believe the SMRT China bus drivers were being vocal hence they expressed their unhappiness over their pays by refusing to work. I think Singaporean bus drivers, generally, when facing with such pay issues may turn to the more diplomatic routes such as meetings with their union leaders to resolve the issues. The above brings me to the question as to whether there is such a union for the foreign bus drivers to turn to, for matters relating to pay and other welfare matters and whether such avenues were communicated to these foreign drivers prior to their joining of SMRT bus service?

I believe Desmond Kuek, the current CEO and President of SMRT should be able to resolve this incident well, with his vast experience in the Defence Force which culminates in his post of Chief of Defence. I believe Desmond may have faced with disciplining soldiers who AWOL hence the experience in how he has dealt with his past soldiers who AWOL could be similarly applied to his current batch of 102 captains (hmm, I mean SMRT bus captains and not army captains) who went AWOL on 26 Nov 12.

Imagine 102 SMRT bus drivers AWOL at the same time! The effect can be quite similar to those massive MRT breakdowns SMRT is not unfamiliar to. Many many commuters here will be affected, there will be delays and implications in the thousands and thousands of dollars with regard to productivity of our workforce.

I wonder whether Desmond will accede to increasing the pays of his Captains if there is such a request from them? I hope if there are any such increment to the bus captains’ pays, it will be carried out without the commuters having to pay higher bus fees. Hence Gerard Ee, Chairman of PTC should sit in this decision making process too. 

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