SINGAPORE: SBS Transit on Friday (Oct 18) said it has made an application to refer the wage dispute cases involving five bus drivers to the Industrial Arbitration Court (IAC).
The IAC arbitrates industrial disputes and certifies collective agreements between unions and employers.
The five bus drivers had made claims in the Magistrates' Court, suing SBS Transit for underpaying them for overtime hours. They had also accused the transport operator of getting them to work more than 44 hours a week in breach of the Employment Act.
Court documents stated that one of the drivers, Mr Chua Qwong Meng, was expected to work for seven days in a row before getting a day off, which was not what he and SBS Transit had agreed on based on the letter of appointment.
A meeting was held between Mr Chua and the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU) on Jul 19, and another meeting took place with SBS Transit's parent company ComfortDelGro on Aug 27. These yielded "no conclusive answers" for Mr Chua, court documents said.
In a press release on Friday, the transport operator said: "SBS Transit, which prides itself as a law abiding and responsible employer with strong labour relations with its employees and the NTWU.
"These claims raise issues that arise from and affect collective agreements that SBS Transit has entered into with the NTWU.
"Therefore, in accordance with the law, in the interests of all of SBS Transit’s Bus Captains and in keeping with the letter and spirit of its excellent relationship with the NTWU, SBS Transit will be referring these issues to the Industrial Arbitration Court for its decision."
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said SBS Transit's decision to turn to the IAC is a "constructive move".
"The collective agreement’s terms affect not just the five individual bus captains, but also affect approximately 6,000 other SBS Transit bus captains as well," Kandhavel Periyasamy, director (industrial relations) of the labour relations and workplaces division at MOM said.
"The IAC is a more appropriate forum to deal with this matter as it is a specialised court to arbitrate on industrial disagreements and it serves to maintain industrial peace," he added.
"The IAC’s interpretation on the collective agreement will provide finality and certainty on the issue for all."