Appeals against dismissal of SMRT staff are still pending

National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) said that the appeals against the dismissal of two SMRT staffs are still pending.

Mr Rahmat Mohd, 49, the train driver involved in the fatal accident on 22 March, which claimed lives of two SMRT trainees, Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, and Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, near Pasir Ris MRT station, had been assigned to a non-driving job after the accident.

According to The Straits Times, he was called to the SMRT office on 13 September for an internal inquiry and discharged straight afterwards.

Apart from Mr Rahmat, a former assistant engineer Lim Say Heng, who was charged on Thursday for his alleged role in the accident, was also dismissed earlier.

NTWU stated that it will support Mr Lim, who was charged with causing death by a negligent act, and his family and ensure that he was fairly represented.

Melvin Yong, NTWU’s executive secretary, had stressed that it was important to allow due process to take its course.

On 14 September, Lim and Mr Rahmat Mohd, the driver of the train that hit and killed the trainees, were being sacked.
SMRT sent emails to its employees the next day after the sacking that it is untenable that the two staff dismissed on Tuesday are not treated consistently with SMRT’s firm stance on safety.

Mr Lee wrote in the letter that the disciplinary process after 22 March was fair, thorough and comprehensive. Apart from the two dismissals, verbal and written warning letters have been issued to staff across several grades. In addition, individual performance grades were recalibrated downwards across various levels of the Trains team, including senior management and staff.

“We did this in an all-out effort to never again repeat safety lapses.” wrote Mr Lee on the dismissal of the two staff on Tuesday.

He noted that the dismissal of the two staff is consistent with the company’s firm stance on safety as staff involved in safety breaches such as signal passed at danger (SPAD) cases on SMRT rail network have been dismissed for the safety lapse.

The union then worked with the two workers to file appeals to SMRT and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) following the dismissal.

Mr Yong told Today that NTWU also helped the two men to find jobs through the Employment and Employability Institute.

SMRT has declined to comment on the appeals.

News of the dismissal of two staff over the fatal accident in March this year, raised pertinent questions over the grounds of dismissal, especially the train driver who has been ruled by a preliminary report to be not responsible for the accident.

Responding to queries from Today Online, 33-year-old Nasrulhudin’s eldest brother Nasrifudin, a civil servant said that his family was shocked to hear about the sacking of Mr Rahmat. He said, “He could be the breadwinner of the family so we are also sad for him.”

While Asyraf’s cousin, who wished to be known only as Mr Khai said, “They should wait (for the inquiry). We have to accept the situation as it is. The takeaway from all this is that hopefully, none of this happens again.”

He also said that all the staff involved in the accident, as well as their colleagues, would have been “affected emotionally and mentally”. Therefore, it would be better if the operator based its disciplinary actions on the Coroner’s Inquiry.

Lim was the officer in charge of the work party.There were 15 employees in the team who went on track to investigate a possible fault involving a signalling device on the tracks. Mr Lim, who was the first in line, managed to escape on time when the train approached. However, Nasrulhudin and Asyraf, who were on the second and third in line failed to react on time.

Mr Yong said, “While we cannot comment on any ongoing legal proceedings, the union maintains that it is important to allow due process to take its course and all facts to be revealed before drawing any conclusions.”

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