Lawyer M Ravi laments the intimidation tactic used against bus drivers suing company over unfair employment terms

“It is unfortunate that such an intimidation tactic was used to discourage my client from seeking redress for what he believes is unjust/unfair employment terms and conditions."

Lawyer M Ravi of Carson Law Chambers took to his Facebook on Friday (7 Aug) to express disappointment over the alleged intimidation of SBS Transit employee to the bus drivers involved in the lawsuit against SBS.

“It is unfortunate that such an intimidation tactic was used to discourage my client from seeking redress for what he believes is unjust/unfair employment terms and conditions,” Mr Ravi wrote on his post.

In fact, he was also informed of “instances of alienation and scare-mongering” from those who remain working with SBS Transit.

He then lauded their bravery saying, “Yet they persevere and carry on despite their battles. Brave chaps.”

Noting that netizens may free to make own judgements about the occurrence, Mr Ravi however pointed out that there is “a sad presumption in Singapore” if the litigation involved larger corporation or government linked company.

“There is a sad presumption in Singapore that it is not worth litigating when an opponent is a larger corporation or is backed by a government linked company,” he noted.

Responding to the claims which said that he is a “free lawyer”, Mr Ravi expressed that he is proud of his pro bono cases although the number of cases is just “few and far between”.

“I am proud of the pro bono cases I take on (more lawyers should do so), but these are few and far between because the public never gets to hear or read about the rest of my fee-earning work and commercial cases.

“Quite rightly so because it is not befitting to do so. Even some of my death-penalty and constitutional law cases are fee-earning, whether fully or discounted. Thought I should just set the record straight,” he said.

He then stressed, “I am not a “free-lawyer”. I do need to make a living and return what I can give back to society through my community work.”

It was earlier reported that an audio recording has surfaced on social media where an SBS Transit employee can be heard allegedly intimidating a bus driver who is involved in a lawsuit against the company.

QM Chua, one of the 13 drivers who sued the company over wages shared on his Facebook page on Tuesday the audio, noting that the public transport operator’s “disturbing conduct” has emerged as the hearing date for the case approaches.

In the released audio recording, an employee of the public transport operator can be heard saying to the involved driver that he should not talk to anyone about the case as it can “influence” them.

“We worry that you talk to too many then everybody got influenced. I hope that you don’t talk to anyone,” he said.

Additionally, the public transport operator’s employee also told the affected bus driver that SBS Transit has hired two lawyers and their rates are high, unlike the charges of Mr M Ravi.

“SBS has two lawyers now. Your Ravi [M Ravi] free nevermind, he always free. But our SBS lawyer he got to pay, and our lawyer fee is not [M Ravi] pay you know…If [M Ravi] lose, you’ll have to pay. You may have a lot of money but to other people, they got no money,” the employee said.

To this, Mr Chua said in his post that SBS mocked Mr Ravi by calling him a “free lawyer”, adding that the company’s lawyer “was more expensive and therefore better”.

For those who are not aware, a total of 13 bus drivers have filed a legal case against SBS Transit for failing to compensate the drivers at the basic hourly rate of pay for their waiting time between shifts.

The lawsuit arose after the two parties had failed to reach a settlement in their final mediation session between the first tranche of suits as reported on 28 February.

In a statement of claim filed in the State Court on 26 February and seen by TOC on 3 March, the bus drivers alleged that the company has breached several provisions under the Employment Act (EA) — the statutory legislation upon which the terms and conditions pertaining to their working hours and overtime were based on.

For this lawsuit, SBS Transit has appointed Davinder Singh LLC to represent itself, whereas the bus drivers are being represented by Mr Ravi.

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