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MOM's response to Yahoo! Singapore articles

  1. Yahoo! Singapore carried two articles based on their interview (5 April and 11 April 2013) with former SMRT bus driver He Jun Ling, who was convicted and jailed for 7 weeks in total for instigating the illegal strike last November. He made unsubstantiated claims against MOM officers. Unfortunately, Yahoo! Singapore did not verify the facts with MOM before running the story.

    MOM dealt with 2010 issues
  2. He Jun Ling alleged that MOM neglected issues raised by a group of SMRT Chinese bus drivers in 2010, other than helping these drivers retrieve their passports from SMRT.
  3. The facts clearly contradict He’s allegations.
  4. MOM officers had investigated the petition tendered by a group of SMRT Chinese bus drivers in 2010. MOM made clear to the drivers then that it could only address statutory issues that were in breach of the law.
  5. One potential statutory issue raised was the conditions of the drivers’ accommodations. MOM officers inspected the relevant dormitory and interviewed other SMRT drivers staying at the dormitory. It found no irregularities in housing conditions.
  6. Another issue raised was the non-payment of bonus. MOM officers investigated and found that the drivers’ contractual terms with SMRT did not mention any bonus. In any case, this was not a statutory issue.
  7. The remaining issues raised were also found to be non-statutory. MOM informed the drivers’ representatives of its findings, and also met then-SMRT Chief Executive Officer Saw Phaik Hwa in April 2010 to highlight the points raised in the petition, and to request SMRT to address them.
  8. In fact, these issues were dealt with some time before He Jun Ling even joined SMRT.
  9. No further concerns were highlighted by the drivers to MOM until the illegal strike occurred in November 2012.

    MOM’s actions during the illegal strike
  10. He Jun Ling also alleged that although MOM officers were present to negotiate a settlement for the drivers on 26 November 2012 (the first day of the illegal strike), none turned up to resume negotiation on the next day. He also claimed that MOM did not inform the drivers that what they were doing was against the law.
  11. Again, this is untrue.
  12. MOM officers responded promptly on 26 November 2012 after receiving information that a group of SMRT drivers had refused to report to work or to speak with SMRT representatives. MOM officers intervened and facilitated a dialogue between the parties. After the dialogue, SMRT and the drivers agreed that SMRT would consider the issues raised by the employees and respond within a week, while the drivers would resume work the next day. At this same session, MOM also advised the drivers that there were proper channels for them to raise their unhappiness over contractual issues, and that their refusal to work was wrong. However, the next day a significant group of drivers refused to return to work, and went on an illegal strike. It was later established that He was one of the key instigators behind this illegal strike.
  13. Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin has stated these facts publicly on several occasions, including at a press conference on 2 December 2012 and in Parliament on 4 February 2013. In December 2012, Minister Tan also openly called on SMRT senior management to fully address any outstanding issues, including labour grievances raised by the workers, and reminded SMRT to act to prevent another breakdown in labour relations.

    Spurious allegations against civil servants should not be tolerated
  14. Commenting on this, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said, “We take a strong view of the allegations made by He Jun Ling and publicised in Yahoo! Singapore. MOM officers acted professionally and fairly in dealing with the 2010 petition raised by the SMRT drivers and with the illegal strike last November. These attempts to cast doubt on their professionalism are unfounded, irresponsible, and contrary to public interest. My colleagues in MOM have stepped forward to serve workers in Singapore and our community to the best of their ability. I support them, and thank them for their commitment and dedication. There is no place for spurious allegations from individuals who break our laws, disrupt our tripartite cooperation and impugn the integrity of our civil servants, nor from those who abet others in these activities.”