SG$46,523raised of SG$110,000.00 goal goal
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Update: Our technical issues with gogetfunding have been fixed! You can now donate via this page, or via the following methods too -
Paynow to: 8755 8735
Bank Transfer: POSB 201-003091-8 (Chua Qwong Meng)
More information on the crowdfunding is available here:
My name is Chua Qwong Meng and I am currently involved with a suit that affects all SBS Transit bus drivers. There are now 13 drivers in total in this suit and we had to commence this suit as we needed the courts to listen to our case because there were too many important points which the law had to address about the Employment Act. It would affect not just all current and future bus drivers, but we feel it would affect all employees under the Act in any sector.
We are seeking to raise funds for our matter to pay for the legal fees which till now have been represented on a pro-bono basis.
Background of Our Legal Matter
Since the day we commenced the first group of employment suits against SBS Transit in September 2019. More bus drivers joined in our action and ended up with 13 of us bus drivers as plaintiffs, my lawyer and his team has had to study a huge number of documents for the 13 of us, including calculating the formula for overtime pay and work hours, as well as organising the workers and engaging experts in employment law.
The matter got harder when we learned that SBS Transit hired one of the top lawyers in Singapore to defend themselves against our action and referred the matter to the Industrial Arbitration Court. In November 2019, the Industrial Arbitration Court ruled that SBS Transit’s collective agreements did not breach the Employment Act. Our lawyers had to make a judicial review application to challenge decision of the IAC as it may potentially affect our suits. This was a massive action as even the Attorney-General applied to intervene in the matter and took up quite a number of our lawyer’s time and resources.
Subsequently, we attempted to settle the employment suits out of court through mediation. A lot of research and strategic work had to be done and all 13 of us turned up for the mediation. Sadly, the attempt to reach a settlement failed, and we moved on to the next step of preparing for the trial proper.
Pro-Bono Representation At That Point
Since March 2020, after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Singapore became more severe, several of our employment contracts had been terminated; and as some of us are Malaysians, it became difficult for us to keep up with paying the instalments of the legal fees to our lawyer Mr. M. Ravi on time. Thankfully, Mr. Ravi never gave up and continued with our representation on a pro-bono basis at that point.
When the trial was set in May 2021, Mr. Ravi and we decided to take out an application to have the trial heard in the High Court instead of the State Courts. Once again, a lot of time and effort had been put in on this application which the lawyers from SBS Transit strongly resisted, but ultimately, the Honourable Judge ruled in our favour and decided that the trial would be better heard in the High Court as the case raises “important questions of law” and may be a “test case”.
The case against SBS Transit is as important to everyone in the employment sector of Singapore as it is to me. As the Honourable Judge said when allowing our applications to have the employment suit heard in the High Court, there are important questions of law which affect not only myself, but also a larger group of employees, including those in the public transport sector who may potentially fall within the definition of employees “in any industrial undertaking essential to the economy of Singapore”.
This case will have potential impact on how employment contracts are to be structured in terms of rest days, calculating overtime pay and determining work hours.
Basis For Crowdfunding Funds
After careful thinking, discussing with the other bus drivers and with the support of my family and friends, we have decided to crowdfund to help us with the continuance of this case in the High Court and even further to the Court of Appeal if needed. It is important that the rights of workers in Singapore be properly considered. If we call ourselves a first world country, we need to review our laws to see if our workers are looked after. It is important for them, and it is important for the economy. We must see this journey through.
The trial is now going to being heard in the High Court which would require a lot of financial resources to continue the fight. We cannot expect our lawyer and his team at K. K. Cheng Law LLC to continue bearing all the costs of this suit especially with regard to the numerous extraneous filing and disbursement fees.
Whilst we are certain that Mr Ravi will give us highly discounted fees for the trial, we want to thank him, and his team at K. K. Cheng Law LLC but we cannot expect them to continue this journey with us not being paid.
We the 13 drivers are fighting for fairness so we must also be fair to our legal team too.
Please therefore help us raise some money. We are simple men and we do not know much about the legal system or about challenging a big organisation like SBS Transit. We however know about the rights of hardworking workers like ourselves who are trying to live and feed our families. This case, we believe, is an opportunity to review the Employment Act and to ensure that it protects us and is fair.
This suit will not just be about myself but also about the other 12 bus drivers' suits which is pending the outcome of my suit. It is also a suit which affects all the SBS Transit Drivers and other workers in situations like ourselves. I also have the mandate to raise this amount for the other 12 bus drivers' suits for which Mr Ravi is also acting for.
We are trying to raise $90,000 to help with the High Court trial which might head up to the Court of Appeal. There is too much at stake to stop here now. Please donate however much you can so that we can reach this target.
In addition to covering our litigation fees, I am hoping to raise a further $20,000 which will be disbursed to some of the ex-drivers who face exceptional financial hardship due to their health or difficulties in finding work during the pandemic.
Thank you all for your very kind support.
- Qwong Meng Chua
- Campaign Owner
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