SMRT - A little revolution and 6 martyrs
The SMRT strike was like a little revolution in Sin City that unraveled a lot of nerves and the false sense of security. How could it happened? It should not have happened at all, if only the management was not complacent, more sensitive and not to treat the grievances of foreign workers as something that can be kicked further and further down the road. The workers were on 2 year contract and in no time they would be due for repatriation. Maybe this is the mindset, and there was no urgency to settle anything.
The aftermath of the strike after the govt moved in with a heavy hand, a no nonsense and zero tolerance for strike, elevated 6 strikers to martyr status while 29 comrades were sent home. This is not all. The sacrifice of these comrades did not go in vain. Their grievances are being attended to immediately with the CEO sitting with them in their bed bugs infested bunks. There were promises of improved living conditions and token pay rises.
But things are escalating and more good news is in the air. The Minister of Transport, Lui Tuck Yew, said the Govt recognizes the need to increase the salaries of bus drivers. Now all the drivers, local and foreign are in glee and only the strikers to thank for. And the Union Chief, Lim Swee Say said that the Union is looking forward to serve the foreign drivers, probably laying down the red carpet for them to join them. They would not be any need for little discussions that led to no where. The Union will be representing them to get fair wages and good living and working conditions.
Now for the bad news. Lui Tuck Yew wants to increase their pay but is asking where the money should come from. I am very happy that I do not take buses for my transportation. Don’t look at me. The bus commuters are likely to have to share the woes of the bus drivers, foreign and local drivers, to give them a big angbao for the Chinese New Year.
I would like to suggest, of course it would be of no use, that the fat pay and bonuses of the top management, the directors, and the big profits of the transport company be slashed for this increase instead of the poor commuters. They are too fat for their own good. Okay, fat hope, I know. We don’t even believe in progressive taxation and how could the rich and fat be made to pay for the increases of the drivers? It must come from the poor commuters.
Did I forget that $1b has already been set aside for something like this?