SMRT strike a 'wake-up call'

SINGAPORE - The illegal strike last week by SMRT bus drivers from China serves as a "wake-up call" for all companies not to take industrial harmony for granted.

This was highlighted by Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor yesterday in response to findings of a snap poll conducted by government feedback portal Reach on reactions to the strike.

Instead, she stressed that employers should ensure that lines of communication remain open so that employees can air their grievances.

Dr Khor said: "It (the strike) is a wake-up call for all companies and stakeholders to be more vigilant, and put in place good and progressive human-resource and management practices."

She was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a bursary presentation ceremony held at Hong Kah Primary School.

The survey findings, released on Tuesday, revealed that an average of 78 per cent of respondents agreed that the Chinese bus drivers should be punished to the full extent of the law, if they are found to have breached Singapore laws.

They also showed that an average of 76 per cent felt that, while the bus drivers were wrong to have staged the strike, SMRT bears some responsibility as it did not manage their grievances well.

Dr Khor also highlighted that a significant number of respondents questioned the perceived delay on the Government's part in calling the incident "illegal".

She said: "Making the decision to call the strike 'illegal' is not a trivial matter. It is a serious matter and the Government needs time to ascertain the facts and circumstances of the case."

In a statement yesterday, the Singapore National Employers Federation said that, in the wake of the incident, an advisory on employee-grievance handling was issued to 20,000 employers, covering 1.9 million employees here.

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