Singapore to deport striking Chinese bus drivers

AP News
Posted: Dec 01, 2012 7:45 AM

SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore will deport 29 Chinese immigrant bus drivers who were involved in the city-state's first strike in 26 years, the government said Saturday.

The Ministry of Manpower said the drivers' work permits have been revoked and that another driver will be charged with instigating the strike. Four others were arrested and charged on Thursday and face up to a year in prison if found guilty.

The ministry said a police investigation found that the strike was premeditated and that the drivers had been absent from work without reason.

Strikes are almost unheard of in Singapore. The last was in 1986 by shipyard workers.

"Foreign nationals should abide by the laws of their host countries," acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin told a news conference. "Laws must be upheld. The government will take firm action against any illegal strikes, regardless of the nationality of the strikers."

Singapore law requires essential service workers such as bus drivers to give 14 days' notice of a strike.

A total of 171 Chinese bus drivers went on strike last Monday in protest at being paid nearly a quarter less than Malaysian bus drivers who work for the same transport company. The strike was over by Wednesday.

Others involved in the unrest will be issued warnings but no further action will be taken and they will be allowed to remain and work in the country, the Ministry of Manpower said.

Singapore relies on hundreds of thousands of immigrants from countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh and China to work as maids, construction workers and at other jobs deemed unappealing by many locals.