THE bus drivers should not have gone on strike as it could have repercussions on an essential public service - but Singaporeans are still empathetic towards their plight, a survey found yesterday.
A straw poll of 30 people by The Straits Times revealed that many believed it was a job Singaporeans would not do.
However, with better communication between management and employees, the problem could have been avoided.
Said Mr Ong Wey Shi, 29, who is self-employed: "There's always room for negotiation in a lawful manner. What they did is tantamount to going Awol (absent without official leave).
"If they were Singaporean, they would probably have been dismissed."
Ms Yeo Puay Lin, 39, an associate director at a bank, said: "Strikes seem rather oldfashioned. It is good that they tried to get attention, but it couldn't have been that difficult to find other means."
But others speculated that there might be an underlying lack of awareness of proper communication channels, resulting in them feeling like they have been pushed into a corner.
"This was possibly a measure of last resort as they felt they had nobody else to approach," said IT engineer Winston Tan, 34.
"But with that said, being employed in Singapore, they should be mindful of local laws."
Property agent Linda Thong, 49, said: "Their culture is different and this is how they express unhappiness. They don't know how else to express it."
Many also said the pay differential should be based on meritocracy rather than by nationality, with additional subsidies for accommodation and food made clear.
The respondents said such factors may include their qualifications, productivity, experience and command of English to motivate them to continually upgrade themselves.
Although the incident has been a flashpoint for online vitriol, the sentiments on the ground appear to be more moderate. Said Ms Yeo: "It is usually just a vocal minority online who are hiding behind the wall of anonymity."
Said 16-year-old April Tan, who has just completed her O levels: "In the first place, the PRCs are doing these jobs because Singaporeans don't want to. We should be more accepting of them coming to do jobs we don't want and accept them because they do jobs we deem not worthy."
Bank manager Louis Ong, 32, summed up: "Human resources are a significant cost. Will Singaporeans be able to accept a rise in transport costs?"