SMRT admits lessons to be learned from illegal strike

Bus operator SMRT says there are lessons to be learnt from the illegal strike by its mainland Chinese bus drivers.

In a media briefing - its first since the matter surfaced on Monday - SMRT executive vice-president (roads and commercial) Teo Chew Hoon said the operator will make immediate improvements.

The briefing zoomed in on salary and working conditions of the drivers.

SMRT said unlike bus drivers from Malaysia who are permanent employees, the Chinese are on a two-year contract with different terms. While their starting pay is lower, they get accommodation, utilities and transport to work.

Although they weren't entitled to increments, they got one in July. Another adjustment - of $25 a month - was also finalised last week, but not told to them yet.

SMRT said it pays competitive market wages, and all things considered, pay for drivers from China and Malaysia are "equitable".

As for dormitory conditions, it said fumigation works were scheduled at the Woodlands dormitory but have not been carried out yet. "Swifter actions could have been taken to improve the conditions of the dormitories," it said, and this will be done.