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HK Unionists Protest Outside S'pore Consulate Over Bus Strike Clampdown
Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/eastasia/view/1241233/1/.html
Source Date: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: China
Created: Dec 05, 2012

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's trade union body held a protest at the Singapore Consulate on Wednesday as a show of solidarity with the Chinese mainland bus drivers who held illegal strikes in Singapore on 26 and 27 November.

About 20 members of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions called on the Singapore government to reinstate the 29 drivers who were repatriated and to drop the charges for the five who are detained.

Scuffles broke out between the protesters, building security personnel, and police when protesters were prevented from accessing the 9th floor Consulate office at Admiralty Centre to submit their petition letter.

The protesters were eventually granted access after a short stand-off.

The labour group said that Singapore did not respect international labour standards that allow workers to strike and called for equal remuneration for migrant workers.

SMRT bus drivers from China in strikes on 26 and 27 November protested for pay equal to that of their Malaysian counterparts, and for better housing conditions.

The Singapore government subsequently called the strike an "illegal strike" as 14 days' notice was not given to their employer.

This is mandatory under Singapore law for workers providing an "essential service".

29 drivers were eventually repatriated while five were detained by the police. One has been sentenced to six weeks' jail.

"Chinese workers, being migrant workers, feel aggrieved and may not know all the avenues that are available to them," said Lee Cheuk-Yan, general secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.

"So it is a matter of information for migrant workers, and also a matter for the Singapore government to review the law and support for migrant workers instead of jailing them," he added.

The protesters also called on the Singapore government to amend the law stipulating that workers providing essential services need to give 14 days' advanced notice before striking.

A statement issued by Singapore's National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) in response to the protest said that both local and migrant workers in Singapore have a right under Singapore's labour legislation to take industrial action or go on strike.

It said workers can do so if they follow the laws in Singapore.

NTUC said it had conveyed its position to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions on two occasions, once on 30 November before the protest and once on Wednesday afternoon.

- CNA/jc
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