Against the backdrop of the now famous bus strike, there have been efforts undertaken by the following parties: The Singapore Government calling on all parties to voice their grievances through the appropriate channels and a flurry of measures adopted by SMRT in response to public and government sentiment.
Whilst the reactions and actions undertaken after the strike are laudable, one can’t help but express concern that the underlying issues of wages, worker’s living conditions and a clear lack of communication channels between all relevant parties have surfaced only via the drastic action of a strike. Indeed, all parties involved have to clearly reflect on the events of the past week and do their utmost to prevent future occurrences of such incidents.
Complacency setting in
Citing how strikes would affect workforce productivity and deter potential investors, the Singapore Government has long taken a dim view towards strikes and strikes have been few and far between throughout the annals of Singapore’s history. This has and still must be the key driving policy: A zero tolerance towards illegal strikes.
In an attempt to maintain the welfare of general workers in Singapore, the National Union Trade Congress, businesses and National Employer’s Federation had been established. Tripartism was vaunted as the the way to progress and to cultivate the symbiotic relationship between businesses, employers and employees. Indeed, the system of tripartism saw much success till the early 2000’s where there were troubling signs of complacency setting in and cracks slowly but surely emerging from the system. This was further compounded by the fact that there was a massive influx of foreign workers as the Government sought to open its doors to foreigners to maximize economic growth.
It would be naïve to conceive that the strikes were one-off actions or actions taken by an irrational group of foreign