Singapore — In response to news that Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre (Suntec Singapore) was retrenching almost half of its workforce, the majority being locals, members of the public question what the term “local” truly means.
Suntec Singapore and the Building Construction And Timber Industries Employees’ Union (BATU) said in a joint release on Thursday (Aug 27) that 85 roles, nearly half of Suntec Singapore’s workforce, would be retrenched due to the exhibition industry being “severely impacted” by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Out of the 85 employees, 60 are local staff and 25 non-local. The company currently has 178 employees, 149 of whom are locals, noted the media release reported by channelnewsasia.com.
The retrenchment notices were effective on Thursday, with the affected employees beginning their notice period on Tuesday (Sept 1).
“With uncertainty on when the situation could improve and after considerable deliberation and review between Suntec Singapore and BATU, a one-off workforce rationalisation plan has now been announced,” said the joint release.
Since February, the two parties have been working on and implementing cost-cutting measures. Non-essential expenditures were eliminated, hiring endeavours suspended, and staff members redeployed. Meanwhile, annual leaves and short work weeks were cleared, alongside management positions taking a pay cut of up to 40 per cent.
After the retrenchment exercise, Suntec Singapore will retain its workforce of 89 locals and four non-locals. Suntec Singapore’s Chief Executive Officer Arun Madhok highlighted that the decision was not an easy one to make, nor did it reflect one’s performance. He added he was “truly sorry” it had to be done.
Compensation and assistance would be provided to affected staff, including a month’s salary for every year of service as a severance payment. Eligible staff would be given their pro-rated Annual Wage Supplement and are permitted to cash in on any remaining annual leave entitlements. They could also attend job fairs, interviews, and other training while serving their notice period.
Those responding to the news wished that the people who lost their jobs would be able to find employment quickly, while wondering what the term “local” referred to, whether Singaporeans or Permanent Residents (PRs).
There have been requests for a more transparent distinction between the two, noting they are not the same and should not be lumped into one category.
One person wondered why a few of the non-local roles were retained and if these positions could instead be given to locals.