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SBS Transit to provide legal, financial help to employees abused by the public

SINGAPORE — SBS Transit is prepared to support any of its staff members who wish to take civil action against individuals who inflict abuse against them, the company said on Thursday (Sept 17).

SBS Transit to provide legal, financial help to employees abused by the public

SBS Transit’s statement comes amid numerous recent reports physical and verbal abuse against bus drivers.

SINGAPORE — SBS Transit is prepared to support any of its staff members who wish to take civil action against individuals who inflict abuse against them, the company said on Thursday (Sept 17).

This includes helping victimised employees find legal representation as well as taking on any of the costs they may occur in the process, the public transport operator said in a media statement.

SBS Transit’s statement comes at a time when there have been numerous reports of physical and verbal abuse against bus drivers recently. 

These acts of violence usually occur due when members of the public retaliate against enforcement of the strict mask-wearing rule that has been put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, SBS Transit said.

Earlier this week, a bus driver from the company was assaulted by a male passenger who boarded the bus without wearing a mask.

The passenger had verbally and physically abused the driver, including grabbing his neck and collar for more than a minute while refusing to let go.

The 39-year-old driver was later taken to Changi General Hospital and a 52-year-old man was arrested for possession of offensive weapon and voluntarily causing hurt. Police investigations are ongoing.

SBS Transit said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the bus driver has been given three days of medical leave.

In a separate incident, which took place on Aug 20, a commuter verbally abused a bus driver after the driver told the passenger to adjust his mask so that it covered his nose.

The passenger then pulled his mask down further to expose his mouth, SBS Transit said in the statement. He also physically abused the driver by grabbing the driver’s shirt.

In yet another incident, a passenger filmed a live video of himself threatening to sue an SBS Transit bus driver who had refused to let him board the bus because he was wearing a neck gaiter instead of a face mask.

The bus driver was seen calling his company for help while the man used abusive language on him and said that the driver’s actions were racially motivated.

Mr Cheng Siak Kian, the acting chief executive officer of SBS Transit, said: “These attacks against our frontline staff are uncalled for and must stop.

“Our people go to work every day to do their jobs — including enforcing strict regulations.

“To be called names, abused or even attacked, for asking someone to put on a mask, or pay the correct fare, is wrong.” 

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the issue of difficult commuters who do not wear a mask, or wear a mask properly, is one that has been weighing heavily on the minds of frontline transport workers from the other public transport operator SMRT.

“This is disturbing,” Mr Ong said. “Transport service staff are doing their job, making sure the system is safe for all of us. We have a responsibility to wear a mask in public — a simple civic duty.

“Such blatant disregard for fellow commuters and assaulting a bus captain who was doing his job is despicable.”

The National Transport Workers’ Union and SBS Transit later issued a statement saying that they take a firm stand against abuse of any kind towards public transport workers.

The union's executive secretary Melvin Yong said: “Over the years, public transport workers have received better protection under our legislative framework.

“Moving forward, the union will continue to work closely with the authorities and the different public transport operators to examine how we can step up on deterrence measures to further protect our public transport workers.”

Related topics

SBS public transport abuse assault civil action

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