It classifies wages according to Nationality. The simple fact that SMRT has classified wages according to Nationality is in itself a discriminating act. It is totally unacceptable.
I have talked about the lack of Anti-discrimination Employment law in Singapore since many years ago. Places like Hong Kong has set up Equal Opportunity Commission to look into complains of discriminating employment practices. In spite of having Anti-discriminating concept written in Singapore's Constitution (Article 12), there is nothing written in our Employment Act that uphold this spirit of Constitution at all. It just stays as a "Highfalutin" idea.
This SMRT strike has put Singapore in a very bad spotlight internationally. It exposes Singapore as a place that condones discrimination in employment. It is in our National interest to right this wrong and opposition parties should be pushing for anti-discrimination employment law! We do not want to be seen as a place that condones modern slavery, do we?
Some Singaporeans may cry foul and argue that why should we treat foreigners equally in employment in Singapore? Why should we give them equal or fair wages?
It is in the interests of our workers to uphold equal and fair wages for foreign workers. PAP and businesses have claimed that they only turn to employing foreign workers because they can't find local Singaporeans to take up the jobs. But is this true?
When you allow businesses to use lower wages to employ foreign workers, just like the case in SMRT, inevitably you will be encouraging them to displace local Singaporeans as much as the FT quota allows! The reason for them to employ foreign workers have changed; it is not due to the difficulties in finding Singaporeans to employ but rather, they are substituting the more expensive Singaporeans to reduce cost!
If we have anti-discrimination law that dictates that everybody will have to be paid on equal terms, then the cost of employment of foreign workers will be higher than employing Singaporeans when government levies are taken into account. This will discourage companies from employing foreign workers indiscriminately just to replace Singaporeans for the sake of cost cutting. Companies will only turn to foreign workers when it is totally necessary because it would incur higher cost. This will align us to the concept of letting companies to employ foreigners if only if they cannot find Singaporeans to do the job.
Thus, insisting equal wage terms for foreign workers will in fact protect Singaporeans from being displaced. This will cut down our over reliance on foreign workers which could become a vital factor in unstablizing our social structure.
So far, both SMRT and PAP government have mismanaged the SMRT Strike quite badly. Apparently they don't understand the PRC's culture well enough. Strikes in China are very common nowadays and they should not be ignorant about that. Unlike Singaporeans, they will fight for their rights when there is a perception of unfairness. Furthermore, PRCs are very Nationalistic in nature.
Well, from the observation of how the PRCs reacted to the DiaoYu Dao dispute, you will see that they will go all out on Nationalistic sentiments. The new Chinese leadership has tried very hard not to be seen as weaklings when it comes to sovereignty issue. Japan is a large country and it may be forgiven for not able to resolve the matter easily.
However, if the PRCs are to be seen as being discriminated and bullied by a little red dot like Singapore, the new Chinese leadership will face even greater pressure and obstacles in establishing its legitimacy. How would it react?
If the PAP government is to use its usual hard ball political methodology to deal with the PRC drivers in SMRT who went into strike, it would be seen as a "persecution " over discriminating practices. Even if the Chinese leadership does not want to do anything about it, what do you think the common citizens in China would do or react? When Nationality is involved in discrimination, it will no longer be our "internal issue".
It is not in our National interests to endanger the lives of thousands of Singaporeans who are working and doing business in China over some disgraceful discriminating acts of a GLC like SMRT. I have no problem in making sacrifices to defend our land and sovereignty but it would be very silly for us to make sacrifices for the disgraceful discriminating acts of a company which exploited the FT policy for its own benefits.
Some may argue that these PRC drivers should go according to their contracts but when a contract defies good nature practices, breaches natural justice and fairness, it should be viewed as invalid.
On the other hand, SMRT has forced these PRC drivers to be medically examined even though they may have provided Medical Certificates to apply for medical leaves. Such act is unacceptable and has created unnecessary doubts on the professionalism of those doctors who have issued the medical certificates in the first place! Such move has further damaged Singapore's international image and has unnecessarily put our medical doctors on international trial.
After Note: Two opposition parties have finally put up their views through press releases on this matter:
Finally the Opposition parties have issued statements regarding the unprecedented strike by SMRT employees.
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) - http://yoursdp.org/news/
National Solidarity Party (NSP) - http://nsp.sg/2012/11/28/
Singapore People's Party (SPP) - http://www.spp.org.sg/spp-statement-on-the-recent-smrt-bus-strike/
Workers Party Issued their statement at last on 30 Nov 2012