23 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
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 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.
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.
Two 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.
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