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Ex-SMRT drivers jailed

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The four drivers who instigated November’s SMRT strike have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to up to seven weeks in prison.

Judge See Kee Oon announced their sentence yesterday and said despite the grievances which drove them to initiate the strike, the drivers “could not justify taking the law into their hands,” CNN reported.

He Jun Ling, Gao Yue Qiang, Liu Xiang Ying and Wang Xianjie, were led in handcuffs straight from court to Changi prison to begin serving their sentence.

He, the driver who first went online to encourage other drivers to take part in the strike, was sentenced to seven weeks jail. The other three were sentenced to six weeks for their role in conspiring to strike.

Singapore’s regulations require a 14-day notice for any industrial strike involving workers from the “essential service” sector.

With the exception of Wang, all the drivers had been fired by SMRT in late January for being absent without leave. Wang’s contract was not renewed when it expired in mid-January.

A total of 171 drivers were involved in the strike on 26 November 2012, in which they protested against their pay and living conditions.

SMRT has countered the pay offered to bus drivers were fair, but admitted more can be done to improve the living conditions at the workers’ dormitory.

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