Illegal strikes in Singapore

In December 2012, 29 mainland Chinese bus drivers were deported from Singapore, while five others were prosecuted and jailed for their participation in an illegal strike.

The state of Singapore does not make light of disruptions to its labour machine. In accordance with Part III of the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act:

  1. Employees employed in water, gas, and electrical services who go on strike are guilty of an offence
  2. Employees employed in other essential services may go on strike, but they are guilty of an offence if notice of intention to strike is not given to their employers, at least 14 days before the strike. For a definition of essential services, click here.

An employee who is guilty of such offences shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding a year or to both. Additionally, a person who instigates the above offences, or gives financial aid in support of such offences, shall be liable to the same punishment.

The law also protects a person who refuses to partake in an illegal strike. Section 12 of the above Act protects such a person from

  1. expulsion from any trade union or society;
  2. any fines or penalty in accordance to the rules of any trade union or society; and
  3. the deprivation of any right or benefit, or any punishment, in accordance to the rules of any trade union or society.

Moreover, political strikes, or strikes pertaining to a trade dispute of which an Industrial Arbitration Court has cognizance (usually where trade unions or employers have referred the matter to the IAC) are illegal by way of the Trade Disputes Act. The Trade Unions Act and its provisions pertaining to industrial action may also apply with regards to employees affiliated with trade unions.

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