Retrench only as 'last resort'
Govt, employers and unions urge companies to use other measures to manage excess workers.
Wed, Nov 19, 2008
THE tripartite partners of the Government, employers and unions are urging companies with excess staff to consider retrenchment only as a last resort.
Instead, they should consider redeploying the workers to other areas of work, implementing a shorter working week or sending the workers for skills training, said Acting Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong in a written reply to Parliament yesterday.
Companies can also manage their wage costs by using the flexible wage system or implementing temporary layoffs, Mr Gan said.
He was responding to questions from Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC, who asked about the ministry's plans for helping workers in view of the expected rise in unemployment.
However, retrenchments may be inevitable for some companies, even if all the measures to avoid layoffs are implemented, Mr Gan said.
In such situations, companies are encouraged to discuss with their unions and theMinistry of Manpower (MOM) to ensure that retrenchment would be carried out responsibly and smoothly, he said.
'Non-unionised workers who are affected by retrenchment can also seek advice and assistance from MOM.'
He said that this approach to managing excess staff is detailed in the revised Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower, which MOM will release today.
'We urge companies to apply these guidelines and take a longer- term view to managing their manpower,' said the minister.
He added that the tripartite partners will closely monitor the employment situation in affected sectors. They will step up efforts to help companies and affected workers cope with the downturn.
Mr Gan also said that the tripartite partners will help retrenched workers find suitable jobs and, where necessary, help them upgrade their skills to improve their chances of securing another job.
'Retrenched workers and other jobseekers could be deployed to sectors which are still hiring and have strong growth prospects,' he said.
'For example, it is estimated that the retail industry will need at least several thousand retail workers once Ion Orchard, Orchard Central and the integrated resorts are open.'
Details of a new initiative called the Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience, which will include a loan-access scheme for businesses and a new training programme for workers, will be announced soon.