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MOM’s Statement in Response to Media Queries on the SMRT Bus Drivers

Four drivers charged in Court

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has been updated that four bus drivers involved in the illegal SMRT strike on 26 - 27 November 2012 have been arrested and charged in Court this afternoon.

2.    These drivers allegedly instigated their fellow employees to participate in the illegal strike which adversely impacted essential public transport services – commuters were affected, even as other bus drivers worked to help ensure the services continued to run even with the disruptions. The illegal strikes are not acceptable. These alleged instigators must be dealt with in accordance to our laws. 

3.    Investigations are still on-going and MOM will work closely with the Police on the matter.

MOM’s actions

Labour Relations

4.    Since Monday (26 Nov), MOM’s labour relations officers have been in close contact with SMRT’s senior management. MOM’s Deputy Commissioner for Labour, Mr Then Yee Thoong (田诒统), and senior MOM officers with the Labour Relations & Workplaces Division have also met up with SMRT’s senior management.

5.    SMRT has assured MOM that it has identified important lessons from this episode. MOM emphasised that SMRT, which provides essential public transport services in Singapore, must use these lessons to thoroughly review and improve its HR and management practices. In particular, SMRT should ensure their lines of communication with employees are kept open and proper grievance handling procedures are in place. SMRT should also clearly inform and educate employees about these processes. Employees who are unhappy or disgruntled should flag them through these processes, instead of taking matters into their own hands.

6.    MOM reiterated to SMRT that the labour and contractual grievances raised by the workers should be a priority and addressed quickly. MOM also called on SMRT to work more closely with the union to resolve outstanding issues. At the same time, MOM urged SMRT to fully address its remedial actions, both on the housing and labour relations front.


7.    The bus drivers had shared feedback about the living conditions at their dormitories [Woodlands Dormitory and Central Staff Apartments (Serangoon)]. MOM’s Housing Enforcement Branch officers visited the dormitories on Wednesday (28 Nov).

  • The number of occupants in all the SMRT dormitory rooms is kept within the allowed occupancy limit; they are not overcrowded. 
  • Our officers found that bed bug problems were observed in some of the rooms occupied by the SMRT drivers. Occupants of each room are responsible for their own hygiene. 
  • The general housekeeping conditions of the rooms occupied by the SMRT drivers were also below par, compared to the other rooms in the dormitories. A common feedback from SMRT bus drivers interviewed by MOM officers at the dormitories was that the current arrangement of room allocation, where drivers on different shifts resided in the same room, made it difficult for them to get a good rest.
8.    MOM has shared the findings of the inspection with SMRT management on Thursday (29 Nov). SMRT has indicated it would improve the bus drivers’ living conditions as soon as possible. Fumigation will be carried out at the dormitories and remedial works to improve the living conditions at the two dormitories. SMRT has also said it will provide alternative accommodation for the bus drivers upon expiry of the rental agreements with the private dormitory operators.

9.    MOM will continue to monitor the housing situation.