TL;DR: What in the world was SMRT thinking??
In March, two SMRT staff were killed in a fatal track accident. Recently, SMRT sacked the driver of the train that was involved in that accident. Another staff was also sacked. What is not clear is why those two staff were sacked.
SMRT tried to defend their decision to sack those two staff. In an email to staff members, SMRT Trains’ managing director Lee Ling Wee said:
“It is important for SMRT Trains staff to know that our disciplinary process is fair … We do not single out any staff or department to bear the responsibility when things go wrong.”
If that is the case, why punish those two staff members by sacking them? What exactly did those two do that made them deserving of the ultimate punishment? Were those two more responsible for the accident than any other staff members? How so?
What is even more incomprehensible is that SMRT chose to sack those staff before the Coroner’s Inquiry, which is due to be held early next year. Isn’t the Coroner’s Inquiry the process where the details of the causes of the deaths are worked out? If so, isn’t SMRT’s too presumptuous in sacking the two staff members before the due process of the Coroner’s Inquiry is complete?
In fact, that was the point that the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) made to SMRT:
“NTWU has previously written to SMRT to withhold any actions against the affected workers until completion of official investigations so as to not prejudice the outcome of the official investigations.”
Does this mean that SMRT’s actions have prejudiced the outcome of official investigations?
via Straits Times
Even if we put that aside, one must wonder what purpose sacking those two staff members was supposed to serve. In the same email to SMRT staff, Mr Lee tried to explain:
““We did this in an all-out effort to never again repeat safety lapses”
But in order for SMRT to never repeat these safety lapses, wouldn’t it be necessary for SMRT to spell out exactly what the staff who were sacked did wrong? If not, how will the rest of the staff learn what not to do in the future? But it seems that SMRT didn’t say exactly what the two staff members who were sacked did wrong. So what purpose does the sacking achieve?
Even the family of the deceased SMRT staff were shocked about the dismissals. Mr Nasrifudin Najumudin, 33, eldest brother of Nasrulhudin, one of the two killed, said:
“I can only say that we were shocked when we heard the news, we didn’t expect it. He could be the breadwinner of the family, so we are also sad for him.”
Thankfully, there is an appeal process. The NTWU will help the two sacked staff in the appeal process. Union representatives will meet with SMRT to discuss the next course of action. Hopefully the union representatives can get some justice and talk some sense into SMRT.
In a media release to the press yesterday evening, the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) shared that they have reviewed the two cases and submitted an appeal yesterday (19th Sep 2016, Mon) to SMRT’s management against the dismissal of the two SMRT employees. This is following SMRT’s statement that the sacked staff have up till this week to appeal.
Melvin Yong, the Executive Secretary of NTWU, has said that the union has raised further queries relating to the incident in its appeal to the company. He also shared that as they await the reply from the company on their decision, the union will continue to render the necessary support and assistance to the affected employees during this difficult time.