Ever since COVID-19 happened, many businesses have suffered great losses because everyone started staying home. Nobody could travel overseas and everyone had to stay home unless it was absolutely necessary that they head out for two whole months.
As a result, in order to cut their losses, many companies had no choice but to retrench their employees or ask them to take unpaid leave.
Thankfully, phase 2 started about a month ago and some businesses were able to recoup some of their losses and not have to close down completely.
Many employees also thought that everything would be normal too, seeing as to how they weren’t retrenched, but apparently, that wasn’t the case for the workers from Eagle Services Asia Pte Ltd.
Company Allegedly Laid Off 144 Employees In 3 Days
Eagle Services Asia Pte Ltd is an aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) joint venture between Singapore Airlines (SIA) Engineering Company and the original equipment manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.
According to Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao which held an interview with employees from the company, 144 employees were allegedly retrenched.
And according to those employees, they weren’t given prior notice of their retrenchment. Instead, they were informed after they arrived at work, and they had to pack up their things and leave the premises as soon as possible.
The employees shared that they were unhappy because there was no proper notice or reason as to why they were retrenched given to them. All they were told was to leave the office quickly.
One ex-employee said, “I understand that the company needs to retrench workers, but they should at least treat us with respect!”
An anonymous reader said that 31 employees were suddenly fired on 22 July.
They were called into the office at 10am that day before they were told that they were going to be retrenched.
And it seems that many of these 31 employees were actually experienced veteran employees.
One of them said, “This is a good company. I’m grateful towards them for letting me make a decent living for many years. But this treatment at the end is truly disappointing. It feels like the management doesn’t respect us at all.”
Another veteran employee who reportedly worked for more than 40 years was told to clear up his desk quickly. He had way more things than the employees and required more time to pack up, but all he was met with was the urgent rushing of the company for him to leave.
In response to that, he said, “You mean I don’t even have a chance to say goodbye to everyone?”
How could they?
After the first retrenchment exercise was held, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) came to negotiate with the company.
On 24 July, another 113 employees were allegedly retrenched.
This time, some of the employees were allegedly not even allowed into the premises of the company and could only speak to the NTUC staff outside the office.
There were also reports that said some employees were allowed to take unpaid leave to wait for further news after the NTUC staff discussed matters with the company.
A retrenched employee said that while he understood the company’s struggles to cut losses due to COVID-19, he believed that the company could have handled the retrenchment much better. He also thought that the company should have revealed the reason why the retrenched employees were picked.
Some veteran employees expressed their sadness at not being “given a chance to say goodbye” to their colleagues after working for the company for so many years.
Handed Out 4-Month Bonuses Few Months Ago
Some employees also revealed that the company had given out four-month bonuses just a few months ago.
One employee, who has been with the company for more than 30 years, questioned, “They can give that much bonus, but how is it that they are not able to retain us?”
Many employees couldn’t understand the need for the retrenchment exercise if the company could afford to give so much bonus in the first place.
So, is everything true?
Eagle Services Asia’s Response
After the allegations were reported, Eagle Services Asia told The Straits Times that the reports were not true and that no employee has been confirmed as retrenched yet. It also clarified that all staff members are still on its payroll.
The company is still negotiating with the unions to see if there are any ways to reduce the number of employees being retrenched. Throughout this negotiation, the company has put some of its staff on temporary paid leave as they wait for the result.
Some employees were called into the office on 22 July to have a short 10-minute briefing about the retrenchment exercise and they were subsequently told to go on paid leave until the negotiations are done.
In response to the alleged retrenched employees being asked to vacate the premises immediately or being denied entry, the company said that no staff was barred from entering.
They said, “During this pandemic, it is a difficult time for all businesses. The aviation industry among others, has been impacted particularly hard. We have had to make adjustments to the business. Staff departures are never easy.”
However, more than 140 staff, including technicians and engineers, were placed on the retrenchment list, and most of them are Singaporeans.
On 24 July, NTUC urged companies in Singapore to ensure that most of the Singaporeans in the companies are kept in the company and to see retrenchment as a last resort during uncertain economic times.
With regard to this incident, NTUC said, “Our priority at the moment is to ensure that the workers in the company are treated fairly and with dignity.”
So while it’s not true, what’s going to happen next is up to anyone’s guess.