News / Asia

China 'Concerned' by Singapore's Arrest of Chinese Bus Drivers

A police van leaves the premises of a dormitory as negotiations with striking bus drivers continue within the building in Singapore, November 26, 2012.
A police van leaves the premises of a dormitory as negotiations with striking bus drivers continue within the building in Singapore, November 26, 2012.
China has expressed "great concern" about Singapore's arrest of four Chinese bus drivers accused of involvement in a rare strike in the Southeast Asian nation earlier this week.

Singapore police arrested the four Chinese immigrant workers on Wednesday and Thursday and charged them with inciting an illegal strike, an offense punishable by up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,600. One of the men faces an additional charge of posting Internet messages that encouraged his co-workers to strike.

Chinese Migrants in Singapore

  • Singapore is home to 200,000 Chinese migrants
  • Most work in construction, manufacturing, maritime and service industries
  • They apply for work permits through agents who charge substantial commission fees
  • Many work long hours without overtime pay, some accuse employers of exploitation
  • Singapore labor laws offer protection to both migrant and local workers
The four were among 171 Chinese bus drivers who went on strike on Monday to protest being paid less than their Malaysian counterparts who work for the same Singaporean state-run transport company, SMRT Corporation. The strike was over by Wednesday, when most of the workers, who are not unionized, reported back for duty.

The Chinese Embassy in Singapore released a statement on Thursday, expressing concern about the arrests and saying it was trying to arrange consular access to the four detained drivers as soon as possible. It called for the "legitimate rights and interests" of the Chinese workers to be protected. Singaporean authorities promised to examine the drivers' grievances.

When the strike began, the Chinese Embassy also urged the bus drivers to abide by Singaporean laws and avoid affecting public travel. Local laws prohibit workers in essential services such as transportation from going on strike without giving at least 14 days' notice.

Singapore has long used such laws to keep a lid on labor unrest and political dissent. Its last strike was organized by shipyard workers in 1986.

The government of the wealthy city-state also has had to rely on hundreds of thousands of migrants from less-developed Asian nations to ease a chronic shortage of labor for low-skilled jobs deemed undesirable by Singaporeans.

Foreign workers make up about one-third of Singapore's population of 5.1 million. Many migrants also work in mid- or high-level positions in the international financial center and port, drawing complaints from locals who have to compete with foreigners for jobs.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.


Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid