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China hopes Singapore secure rights of arrested drivers: ministry


13:43, December 08, 2012

BEIJING, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Friday that it hopes Singaporean authorities will properly handle the lawsuit concerning Chinese bus drivers and safeguard their rights.

An official from MOC told Xinhua that the ministry has asked the Chinese Embassy in Singapore to negotiate with Singaporean authorities on the lawsuit to meet Chinese drivers' reasonable demands.

The unnamed official said the dispute stemmed from Singaporean employers' discriminatory wages against Chinese and Malaysian bus drivers.

The official said MOC attaches great importance to the interests of Chinese people working overseas.

The ministry has asked domestic enterprises engaging in labor service exports to secure the interests of Chinese workers and help them protect their legal rights when involved in disputes.

A total of 171 Chinese bus drivers took medical leave on Nov. 26 in protest against inequitable pay rises by local public transport operator SMRT, and 88 of them stayed away from work the following day.

Five drivers were arrested and charged, while 29 others had their work permits revoked and deported to China.

Out of the arrested, Bao Fengshan was sentenced to six weeks in jail on Monday, and the remaining four charged with instigating an illegal strike were released on bail on Thursday.

Singaporean authorities said on Thursday that they would take into account the need to raise wages for bus drivers.

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