Headlines, Lifelines

1955 - Hock Lee bus riots

Workers listening to speech23 April 1955.

Workers of the Hock Lee Amalgated Bus Co, who were members of the pro-communist Singapore Bus Workers’ Union (SBWU) went on strike.

They protested against the new work rosters and the formation of rival unions.

The rival union, with 200 spare workers, was formed by the bus company to avert any possibility of strikes by the SBWU.

The strikers attempted to stop the buses from leaving the depots. The entire transport system was paralysed.

Students taking part in protest Students from the Chinese middle school came in busloads, and joined the strikers in a show of support. They organised donation drives, brought food and money, and even entertained the workers with songs and dances.

Rioters throwing stones at the police A major riot broke out on Thursday, May 12, known as "Black Thursday", when police tried to break up an illegal picket line. The police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the mob. The mob retaliated by stoning the policemen and buses.

Police officers carrying a protester awayTwo police officers and an American press correspondent, Gene Symonds, were killed by the rioters. The police killed a student and 31 were injured.

The workers felt that the strike was a success, as they were reinstated without any loss in income.

Diary of horror


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