3 more bus drivers sue SBS Transit
Claims over rest days, overtime pay similar to those of 5 other drivers
Three bus drivers have filed fresh lawsuits against bus and train operator SBS Transit (SBST), citing claims similar to those filed by five other drivers in September.
The eight drivers, all represented by lawyer M. Ravi of Carson Law Chambers, claim they were underpaid for overtime work and had to work for more than a week without a rest day.
Mr Ravi told The Straits Times the three drivers, whose claims were filed in the State Courts last Tuesday, are Malaysians. The first group comprised three Singaporeans and two Malaysians.
The writs of summons were also issued against SBST last Tuesday.
According to court documents seen by ST, the trio claim that SBST had mandated a work schedule that required them to work from Tuesday of one week to Saturday of the following week before being given rest days on the subsequent Sunday and Monday. This means they were required to work for 12 days without a rest day, which they claim is contrary to what was intended in their letters of appointment.
They cite the Employment Act's definition of a week, which is given as a continuous period of seven days commencing at midnight on Sunday, to support their claims.
They also cite Section 36(1) of the Act, which states that every employee shall be allowed in each week a rest day which may be Sunday or another day determined by the employer.
The drivers argue that the purpose of these parts of the Act is to prevent workers from having to work for longer than seven days without rest and that "midnight on Sunday" should be interpreted to mean midnight of the rest day given.
According to the Ministry of Manpower website, the maximum interval allowed between two rest days is 12 days.
After the first group of five sued SBST, the transport firm referred the terms of several of its collective agreements to the Industrial Arbitration Court (IAC) for interpretation.
The IAC serves as a "last resort" for resolving industrial disputes.
A hearing was held last month, but the court did not hear the drivers' claims. After the hearing, the IAC president, Justice Chan Seng Onn, issued a written decision stating that the collective agreements did not breach the Employment Act, but he noted the language could be clearer to avoid confusion.
In response to queries, SBST senior vice-president of corporate communications Tammy Tan said: "Three of our bus captains have issued writs through Mr M. Ravi complaining about prescribed rest days, working hours and overtime.
"They have been filed even though, as has been publicly announced, the Industrial Arbitration Court found that the bus captains' terms are equal to or more favourable than those they are entitled to under the Employment Act.
"SBS Transit is very proud of the fact that it has not just complied with the law, but has gone beyond that in the interests of its bus captains. We will naturally defend these claims with vigour."
Separately, ST understands that the first group of five drivers have since agreed to try mediation, which is scheduled to take place in February.