Is there an alternative to retrenchment?

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is retrenching its staff. 130 of its employees were retrenched yesterday as the company moved to reduce its costs and restructure its work processes.

SPH

The retrenchment took place on the same day after a townhall meeting in the morning involving the entire company.

According to a Straits Times report, there were staff who were upset that the retrenchments were conducted in a “swift and sudden way”.

SPH

 

While it may be a swift and easiest way for a company to cut costs, it comes at the expense of workers who may have mouths to feed.

According to the Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower, there are other possible ways to save costs in managing excess manpower, such as re-deploying workers to alternative areas of work within the organisation, or shorter work weeks, temporary layoff or other work arrangements. At least these ways, give a bit of relief for workers (if any).

Granted, the organisation kept the union informed of the retrenchment ahead so that negotiations and arrangements could be made for retrenchment benefits as well as finding and applying jobs.

But perhaps more could have been done to salvage the situation upstream, before retrenchment was even considered.

Could the company together with the help of the union collectively think of ways to retrain, reskill, or second skill affected workers so that these workers can find jobs elsewhere or be cross-deployed to other departments within the organisation?

Or even, explore how the potential affected workers could be “re-deployed” to other companies within the media or print sector so that they have jobs?

And it’s in the news that SPH has entered the healthcare sector by buying over a nursing home operator, couldn’t there have been some form of second-skilling of affected workers so that they can be employed in the healthcare sector?

It may well be easier said than done. But perhaps companies shouldn’t cut jobs, just to save costs with a simple stroke of a pen, but to really consider how jobs can be saved by other forms of managing of manpower, without the need for retrenchment.

 

 

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Arthur Lee

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