SINGAPORE - In the first major retrenchment in Singapore in recent years, HGST, the enterprise hard drive subsidiary of Western Digital, yesterday axed 530 employees - almost a quarter of its Singapore staff. This is believed to be the company's biggest layoff exercise in Singapore in the past 20 years.
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In a Facebook post, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said that even with "a tight labour market and an economy that is doing reasonably well, we will continue to see some amount of redundancy as our economy restructures.
"I wonder how many of us noticed the news about HGST's retrenchment exercise. It is one of the larger retrenchments this year. Even with a tight labour market and an economy that is doing reasonably well, we will continue to see some amount of redundancy as our economy restructures.
He added that some amount of redundancy is an inevitable reality and that Singapore will likely see more of this in the coming years.
"The key thing is to make sure that there is adequate help available to help displaced workers re-enter suitable jobs. And for jobs to be available in the first place.
"Importantly, the unions often proactively work with the management to help those affected. I am glad that HGST Singapore's management and the United Workers of Electronics & Electrical Industries (UWEEI) have been doing this. They are actively working with e2i to provide assistance to the workers affected by the company's retrenchment. Union has also helped secure other settlements and benefits.
"WDA has stepped up employment facilitation efforts as the economy restructures. This includes working closely with the Community Development Councils, grassroots and self-help groups to help unemployed and vulnerable job seekers find jobs. WDA will also work with Family Service Centres and other community counselling providers to help job seekers who require emotional support, and ramp up its outreach and assistance capacity through the unions, advertisements and activities carried out in locations close to the community.
"Retrenchments will happen whether it be festive season or not. Even when the economy is healthy. Unemployment will occur even if the economy is healthy and unemployment low. We must ensure that the systems and processes are in place to help those affected. Take care!"