Four Kowloon Motor Bus drivers who initiated a strike over salary reforms in February have been officially reinstated following an appeal.

Yip Wai-lam, who led the strike, received a notice on Friday stating that the appeal committee had decided to reinstate all of them. However, they received a warning that they had violated company guidelines and endangered road safety.

The group participated in a three-hour strike after the company announced a controversial salary reform package in the aftermath of the fatal Tai Po crash, which left 19 dead.

Yip Wai-lam. Photo: In-Media.

The company increased the bus drivers’ base and overtime salaries but simultaneously removed commissions available for safe driving and good service, causing unions to question whether the reforms were actually improvements at all.

The bus company also stopped handing out shifts to around 200 part-time bus drivers in the wake of the tragedy, leading them to protest, saying the move was unfair.

Yip Wai-lam (right) and her husband, both of whom took part in the strike. File Photo: In-Media.

On February 24, Yip’s alliance called on drivers to stop their vehicles wherever they were at 8pm sharp for 30 minutes. The strike was mostly limited to the Tsim Sha Tsui bus terminus, and ended after company officials arrived later that evening promising to meet with the alliance.

The alliance demanded that a bus drivers’ review system be scrapped; that KMB and the government do more to educate passengers on bus etiquette; and for the views of low-level bus drivers to be heard when the company formulates policies.

After the strike, the company went against a promise it made and terminated their employment, saying that they caused a threat to safety of passengers and road users when they left their posts and stopped driving whilst on duty.

But the company quickly backtracked after a public outcry and temporarily allowed them to return to work, suspending the decision until an appeal.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.