SINGAPORE, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- About 100 Chinese bus drivers working in Singapore agreed to return to work Monday after their employer said it would consider their demand for an equal pay rise with other foreign drivers.
The 102 Chinese bus drivers working with public transport operator SMRT took medical leave and refused to go to work on Monday morning. Local media said they were unhappy mainly because the Malaysian drivers recently received a pay rise of 275 Singapore dollars (225 U.S. dollars) and one month bonus pay, while the Chinese drivers received only an increase of 75 Singapore dollars without any bonus.
One of the drivers said a change from five work days to six also means they earn less in wages for overtime work. They also complained about the poor living conditions.
A human resources executive of SMRT, which operates about 25 percent of the bus services in Singapore, was called in to resolve the dispute. The police was called in when the talks came to a standstill, but they did not interfere as there was order.
News of the no-show incident became a hot topic on social media. Singapore has had few no-show or strikes over the past decades as authorities put in places rules and measures that discourage strikes while trying to protect the rights of the workers through consultations that involve the workers, the employers and the government.
The Ministry of Manpower said in a statement that it took the workers' actions very seriously and that it was looking into the matter. Labor relations officers from the ministry were at the site during negotiations.
The Chinese Embassy in Singapore said it has been in close contact with Singapore authorities over the incident.
The National Transport Workers' Union said the union could not represent the affected workers as they were not union members. It urged the workers involved to return to work immediately and added that the union was prepared to help in negotiations between SMRT management and the workers if both parties welcomed its involvement.
Singapore is heavily dependent on foreign labor in sectors such as construction, medical services and food and catering. SMRT said the company has been hiring bus drivers from China since 2008.