The SBS bus drivers who are taking on SBS Transit Limited are continuing to rely on crowdfunding to help them cover their legal fees and to see the case through in the High Court.
Lawyer M Ravi of K.K. Cheng Law LLC, who represents the bus drivers, said in a Facebook post on Monday (23 Aug) that the High Court has fixed the new trial dates for the case from 23 to 25 November.
The case will be heard by Justice Audrey Lim, who had earlier allowed the drivers’ application to transfer the case from the State Court to the High Court. Judge Lim’s decision was based on important questions of law or public importance regarding the interpretation of certain Employment Act (EA) provisions relevant to their case.
The judge also ordered SBS Transit Limited to pay S$7,000 in legal costs against the 13 bus drivers.
“I am representing 13 SBS drivers who are suing SBS Transit Ltd for overtime pay, rest days etc. The outcome of this case will have bearing on at least 6000 bus drivers who are also potentially underpaid,” Mr Ravi wrote.
“The SBS trial in the High Court will also raise important questions of law relating to the interpretation of ‘overtime’, ‘rest days’, ‘emergency services’ etc under the Employment Act which will affect all employees in Singapore.”
Noting that he could only afford to take on the case pro bono “up to a certain point”, Mr Ravi noted that his clients are unable to pay the legal fees given the pandemic. As such, they’ve turned to crowdfunding.
As such, Mr Ravi is appealing for generous donations to support the drivers’ efforts in raising funds for fees, disbursements, and court fees to support the legal action in the High Court.
The campaign was started by one of the drivers, Chua Qwong Meng, on behalf of the 13 drivers on GoGetFunding with a target of S$90,000. They’ve raised a little over S$10,000 so far.
“We are trying to raise $90,000 to help with the High Court trial which might head up to the Court of Appeal,” said Mr Chua on the campaign site, adding that “there is too much at stake to stop here now”.
He explained that several of the drivers’ employment contracts had been terminated since the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore became more severe. This made it difficult for the group to keep up with the instalments of legal fees to their lawyer, M Ravi.
Fortunately, Mr Ravi stayed on as their lawyer on a pro-bono basis.
Even so, Mr Ravi had explained in an earlier Facebook post that the decision to continue representing them on a pro-bono basis was due to the drivers being unable to “keep up with their instalment payments” for the “small fee” he had charged them.
This is in addition to the other pro-bono cases that he and his team have already taken on.
On the crowdfunding platform, Mr Chua stressed the importance of seeing the case through for the rights of all workers in Singapore.
“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,” he asserted.
Mr Chua continued, “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.”
For more details on the crowdfunding campaign and to contribute, click here.
Donations can also be made directly to Mr Chua’s POSB savings account which is solely for the purpose of raising money for legal funds: 201-003091-8