3 reasons why SMRT was wrong to have sacked its employees…

smrt-accident

One of Singapore’s public transport operator, SMRT received public backlash after sacking 2 of its staff who were involved in the fatal accident near Pasir Ris MRT station in March 2016.

Once news of it came out on social media, netizens came out to voice their displeasure.

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Here are 3 things the company could have considered before taking action on the staff:

1. Proper process

Surely, things needn’t have moved so fast. The dismissals were one step too fast right?

Perhaps it was okay for the company to proceed with disciplinary actions before waiting for external investigations to complete as was indicated by the company.

But internally, was there a proper platform such as a Committee of Inquiry for a hearing or for the affected employees to plead their case?

According to a seasoned HR practitioner, the usual process for other companies in such a case, would be to hold a Committee of Inquiry for a proper hearing. This would be where the staff can present his or her own mitigating points before any action is taken, if necessary. But was this the case for SMRT?

Imagine a court sentence without a proper hearing for the accused/defendant to plead his or her case in the court.

2. Union’s request to withhold action

The National Transport Workers’ Union  had written to SMRT before the sacking to withhold any actions against the affected workers until completion of official investigations. But of course, this was not acceded to.

Because of this, the union submitted an appeal to the management of SMRT and raised further queries relating to the fatal accident.

Anyway, if the appeal falls through and SMRT sticks to its guns, the union has the choice of going direct to MOM for conciliation, and then the Industrial Arbitration Court (IAC) if the dispute is unable to be resolved at conciliation.  #justsaying

I’m sure SMRT doesn’t quite want the matter to be escalated that far, right?

3. Different strokes for different people?

According to sources, the two employees had clocked between more than 15 years of service each with SMRT.

Surely if the process of sacking was “fair, thorough and comprehensive” according to an email which was circulated to employees, the disciplinary action would be the same for all affected workers?

Instead, warning letters and performance downgrades were given to other staff as part of the disciplinary process. How fair is that, and who is to judge?

Whatever the case, the point is if there wasn’t any consideration on the part of the management for the well-being of the affected staff and a proper platform for the staff to plead his case, then the disciplinary process is not exactly “fair, thorough and comprehensive”.

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Arthur Lee

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