NGO: Chinese drivers' basic pay an issue

PAYING SMRT bus drivers from China less than their Malaysian colleagues is a "form of wage theft", said a director of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home).

The non-governmental organisation's (NGO's) director of global partnerships and philanthropy, Mr Jolovan Wham, said at a forum yesterday that when an employee's basic wage is lowered, it also affects how overtime pay is calculated. This also applies for work done on public holidays and rest days.

The forum was held to com- memorate International Migrants Day yesterday.

SMRT had said that its Chinese drivers are hired on a two-year contract and that it covers the costs of their transport, accommodation and utilities. They are paid a basic salary of $1,100 a month while Malaysian drivers, who are hired on a permanent basis and do not enjoy such coverage, get $1,400 a month.

Mr Wham suggested that the cost of expenses such as transport and housing should be deducted from their total monthly salaries, which would include overtime pay.

Home's senior consultant for anti-human trafficking, Ms Libby Clarke, said that out of 151 foreign maids interviewed in a recent study, about two in three said they were made to sign different contracts - with different terms - here and in their home countries.

The study also showed that nine in 10 maids clocked an average of 17 work hours a day.

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