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Ong Ye Kung: What we have dreaded all these months has happened; SIA to reduce global workforce

The Transport Minister assured the public that the government would provide support for the affected workers

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Singapore – Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung took to social media to talk about the “dreaded” occurrence of retrenchments happening to the Singapore Airlines (SIA) workforce, both local and overseas.

Mr Ong said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Sept 10) that around 2,400 SIA staff based in Singapore and overseas will be affected by the reduction. “What we have dreaded all these months has happened,” said Mr Ong.

Taking hiring freezes and early retirements into consideration, SIA will be reducing its workforce by 4,300 staff members, said the minister. He noted that the retrenchments affecting the 2,400 staff were comprised mostly of foreigners.

“We know how badly SIA is hit by Covid-19. Over the past few months, (the) government has rolled out support measures, including the Jobs Support Scheme, to defray business costs and protect jobs,” said Mr Ong. “The aviation sector received the strongest support.”

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“SIA also raised significant capital with the support of its majority shareholder.” He noted that the flag carrier airline company had tried to delay the workforce reduction for “as long as they can.” However, with air travel severely affected by the pandemic, the need has become “inevitable.”

Mr Ong described the workers being retrenched as the same people passengers see at the airport, “those ensuring we board our planes efficiently and on time.” They are the cabin crew in their suits and kebaya that have become a symbol of pride for Singapore. Passengers hear their “assuring voices” over the aircraft public announcement system, “often telling us to belt up, for there would be turbulence,” said Mr Ong.

He assured the public that the government would provide support for the affected workers and would partner with NTUC (National Trades Union Congress) Singapore as well as other industry partners to find them new jobs or roles. The government would “help them transit to other industries or enrol them in suitable industry attachment and traineeship programmes.”
“I am sure their skills are much needed elsewhere too,” Mr Ong confirmed. “More importantly, we will continue to press on, to restore air travel in a safe manner, to get SIA planes back up in the sky, and revive our air hub,” he added.

Members from the online community expressed their appreciation for the excellent service provided by SIA staff and hoped that they would be re-employed once the situation improves. “Some SIA core values take decades to accumulate, they cannot be replaced by fresh recruits,” noted Facebook user Edwin Hooy. This also “helps to reduce the learning curve and hasten staff service to the company,” commented Facebook user Kevinn Yz Heng.

What we have dreaded all these months has happened. SIA will be reducing its global workforce. Some 2,400 staff based…

Posted by Ong Ye Kung on Thursday, 10 September 2020

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