The Straits Times
Published on Dec 04, 2012

Foreign bus drivers' protest a wake up call for employers


LAST week's controversy involving the refusal by a group of SMRT bus drivers from China to work, in protest against their pay and living conditions, is a wake-up call to employers who have been badgering the Government to bring more foreign workers into the country ("102 SMRT bus drivers protest against pay"; last Tuesday).

The preference for such workers over Singaporeans because of lower costs has created a double-edged sword.

The move by the Chinese bus drivers signals the folly of our over-dependence on foreign workers.

The fact that we have sent a signal that we are in dire need of such manpower may have amplified their expectations and spiralled their demands ever upwards.

We have now reached a stage that wherever we go, we are served by foreigners, particularly in the food and beverage and retail sectors. The staff mainly speak Mandarin, or English with heavy Filipino, Thai or Myanmar accents.

Labour unrest should not be the price we must put up with to have foreign workers here, and employers must understand that.

Ralph S. Lesslar