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Starhub retrenches 300 staff this week, many snr mgr >15 years
« on: October 31, 2018, 11:38:42 pm »

SINGAPORE — A number of StarHub staff were left in shock, and tears, at the telco’s headquarters in Ubi this week, as they received news that they had been retrenched from their jobs.

On Oct 3, the company announced that it was laying off about 300 of its 2,500 employees as part of a S$25 million restructuring exercise. The telco had said that most of the affected employees hold “non-customer-facing positions”.

TODAY understands that the retrenchment exercise involving full-time and contract workers began on Monday (Oct 29) and will last till Friday, with affected staff receiving their notices and vacating the premises.

According to some StarHub staff who spoke to TODAY on condition of anonymity, the workers who received the pink slip were from the information systems, engineering, marketing and commercial, and consumer departments. The majority of those affected were senior managers who had worked in the company for more than 15 years.

Retrenched staff will receive a month's pay for each year of service, pro-rated annual wage supplement — commonly known as the 13th month bonus — and a variable bonus based on the company’s financial performance which will be paid out in March next year, TODAY has learnt. They will also receive six months of medical and insurance benefits from the termination of their employment contract.

A male staff member who was informed on Wednesday that he was being laid off due to job redundancy said he was “not surprised” as StarHub had already announced the impending job cuts earlier this month.

“Since news of this spread out for so long, almost one month, I think all of us are so-called well-prepared,” he said.

He is not too concerned about providing for his family as his only child is working.

As he is a few years shy of the retirement age, the staff member, who is in his 50s, said the retrenchment package was “not too bad”, and he will “just see it as early retirement”.

Describing the scene at his Ubi office, another StarHub staff told TODAY that there was some “drama” when the first retrenchments were carried out on Monday, with some of the affected staff shedding tears as they did not expect to be laid off.

However, there were also others who were sanguine about their situation, and were happy with their retrenchment packages.

This staff member said that he does not know if he will be affected as his department would only be informed on Thursday, but he is preparing for the worst and has started prepping handover notes and documents in case it happens.

Another StarHub employee said that those who were made redundant were immediately put on one- or two-month gardening leave, which they will be compensated for.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, StarHub would not confirm details of their retrenchment package, citing the need to protect the privacy of its affected staff.

The firm said that its “overall package is more generous versus market practice”.

“As a responsible employer, we are following the manpower guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Manpower closely,” said StarHub in a statement.

“We intend to treat our employees fairly in recognising their past contributions, with sensitivity and respect.”

According to the Manpower Ministry guidelines, companies are encouraged to pay retrenchment benefits of between two weeks and a month’s salary per year of service, depending on the company’s financial position and the industry.

For unionised companies, the norm is one month’s salary for each year of service.

Human resource consultants told TODAY that the retrenchment benefits offered by StarHub were “fair”, and would go some way to help affected staff make the transition to their next job.

Ms Karen Blal, Regional Director of CIPD Asia, the professional body for human resource and people development, said that StarHub’s offer is better than most firms here as companies are not obliged to compensate staff beyond two to four weeks’ pay for each year of service.

She added that the offer shows that StarHub is “trying to do their best to make life a little easier for them as they look for new roles”.

Mr Erman Tan, president of professional body Singapore Human Resources Institute, said that the firm’s offer was a “very fair package”.

According to a StarHub staff member, some of his colleagues have even requested to be part of the retrenchment exercise after hearing details of the package. They are worried that any follow-up exercise would not offer similar benefits, he noted.

He added: “With so many competitors in the market, and TPG Telecom (fourth telco) coming in, the pie is only this big. You have so many service providers but the pie is the same.”

Aside from the challenges facing the telco industry, some staff are expecting a tough few months ahead after this retrenchment exercise due to the lack of proper work handovers and increased workloads.

“Life is going to be hell for me for the next few months,” said an employee.