Mr Yuen pushed for fairness by saying that “we ought to protect the Singapore core because of growing unemployment of our PMETs”.
[We Must Protect Our Core] It is worrying that many corporations and GLCs in Singapore have to take the painful yet…
In his statement, he added: “By Singapore core, we mean Singapore citizens. There is however ambiguity with the term ‘locals’ when PRs are bracketed together with citizens, in the recent data on PMETs revealed by the government.”
“We must be very clear that ‘locals’ and ‘core’ refer to Singapore citizens. So in principle, if given a choice between a citizen and a non-citizen worker, the default should be for the Singapore citizen to keep the job, all things being equal,” he said.
Mr Yuen’s statement follows the release of figures by the Ministry of Manpower on Monday (Sept 14) that retrenchments in the second quarter of the year more than doubled to 8,130 compared with the number in the first quarter. This meant that 11,350 people were laid off in the first half of the year, making it the worst showing since the global financial crisis of 2009.
It also follows an announcement by Singapore Airlines (SIA) last Thursday (Sept 10) that it would slash about 20 per cent of its headcount — about 4,300 positions — amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has paralysed the air travel sector.
About 2,400 staff in Singapore and overseas will be retrenched, while the remaining 1,900 roles will be accounted for through natural attrition, a recruitment freeze and voluntary-departure schemes.
Mr Yuen added that it is intuitive to keep our core employed as it is not only a short-term necessity but a long-term imperative, so as not to have our key skills hollowed out. “When the crisis blows over — and this can be a prolonged crisis — we will need this core of local PMETs to help rebuild our economy,” he said.
He noted that efforts to incentivise companies to hire locals and create new jobs for the increasing unemployed must be seen as deliberate and decisive, especially when there are more retrenchments to come. /TISG