Prosecution will amend charges against four SMRT drivers if they plead guilty

The prosecution will amend the charges faced by four SMRT bus drivers from conspiring and instigating a strike among drivers last November, to participating in the illegal industrial action, if they plead guilty.

This was revealed by the defence counsel who is representing one of the drivers after after a pre-trial conference on Thursday.

He Jun Ling, 32, Gao Yue Qiang, 32, Liu Xiangying, 33, and Wang Xianjie, 39, were charged with conspiring and instigating a strike among drivers in November last year.

He, however, still faces another charge of inciting workers to strike in relation to a statement he posted on Chinese website Baidu.

The offences carry the identical penalty of a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to a year in jail.

The four Chinese nationals would have to decide if to accept the prosecution's offer of a reduced charge by their next court date on Feb 1. Their lawyers could also have to meet prosecutors before Jan 24 to discuss the next stage of proceedings. The lawyers are acting for the Chinese nationals for free.

Bao Feng Shan, 38, was the first driver to be dealt with over the illegal strike. He was jailed six weeks last month. He has completed his sentence and has been repatriated. Twenty-nine drivers had also been repatriated last month. The illegal protest involved 171 drivers on Nov 26, and 88 the following day.

All were Chinese nationals and they were unhappy about the gap between their wages and those of Malaysian drivers, as well as poor living conditions.

khush@sph.com.sg

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