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Singapore to deport 29 Chinese bus drivers

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A total of 29 Chinese bus drivers were deported from Singapore Sunday after their work permits were revoked for a rare no-show or strike. One of the Chinese bus drivers involved in a recent strike was sentenced to six weeks in jail in Singapore on Monday, while four others await trials scheduled for Thursday.

It was the first strike in Singapore in twenty-six years.

In a peaceful protest over pay disparities and conditions at their dormitories, 171 Chinese drivers who work for local public transport operator SMRT took medical leave on Nov. 26th.

Singapore responded to the case on Saturday and considered it an illegal strike.

Based on Singaporean law, workers in essential services such as transport and public utilities must give their employer at least 14 days' advance notice of their intention to have a strike.

So far, twenty-nine Chinese bus drivers were deported from Singapore. One of the Chinese bus drivers involved was sentenced to six weeks in jail in Singapore on Monday, while four others await trials on the coming Thursday. The other drivers who took part in the strike will get warnings from the police but will be allowed to continue their work and stay.

Singapore's authorities and the Chinese Embassy stepped in to the matter and all the workers went back to work two days after the strike.

China's Commerce Ministry said last Thursday it is paying very close attention to this labour dispute.

During a regular press conference on Friday, China's Foreign Ministry responded to the issue.

China'S Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said, "China calls on the Singaporean side to take the Chinese workers' legitimate appeals into full consideration, properly handle the case, and protect the lawful rights of the arrested Chinese drivers."

According to a spokesperson for SMRT, about 22-percent of its bus drivers are from China. And another 22 percent are from Malaysia. The strike came after a pay disparity among foreign employees. Local media said the Malaysian drivers recently received a pay raise of 225 USD and one month's bonus pay, while the Chinese drivers received only an increase of 61 USD without a bonus.

The incident has raised questions of how Singapore manages its industrial relations.


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