Everything About Tampines IBM’s Retrenchment That Affected All Workers in the Plant

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Over in the US, a serial entrepreneur has joined the race to be the President in 2020, and his primary promise?

He wanted everyone to receive USD$1,000 a month even if they’re not working.

That’s like USD$12,000 a year, or about SGD$16,234.

That’s, at least to me, a lot of money.

And his reason for proposing this?

Automation is taking over the world, and more people are going to lose their jobs. This universal basic income would allow Americans to “look for a better job, start our own business, go back to school, take care of our loved ones or work towards our next opportunity.”

And to fund that? Have a VAT (known as GST here in Singapore) or increase it.

That sounds a little ambitious, but the part about losing jobs is as real as it gets.

Because out of the blue, hundreds of people have just become jobless, and a universal basic income suddenly becomes a rather “good” idea.

But of course we still won’t want it lah. You want your GST to be 50% meh?

Now, moving on…

IBM Singapore Technology Park

Nine years ago, IBM opened the $90m IBM Singapore Technology Park to manufacture its System z mainframes and high-end POWER systems (God knows what they are, just some atas thingy). In addition, it’ll also be manufacturing other related hardware as well.

A 34YO "old-virgin" S'porean was desperately looking for a boyfriend and surprisingly, she really found one online. But the intentions of the man will make you cry. Prepare tissue paper to watch this video based on real events:

The opening was met with much fanfare, and Singapore was chosen for the 365,000sqft plant due its location—it’s close to a growing number of global clients.

But no one would have predicted that nine years later, the $90 million investment would be…”gone”.

Back in May and July last year, the plant has undergone a restructure that led to at least 200 people losing their jobs: back then, the reason was that they were relocating manufacturing of its POWER systems to Mexico.

When asked if that could mean the end of the plant, IBM then did not provide a concrete answer, saying that it “continually assesses optimum space utilisation for its operations”.

Well, red flag #1.

IBM Singapore Technology Park Now Lays Off All Workers

For people who “survived” the last axe, it seems like they’ve been walking on a very thin ice, given that there hasn’t been any confirmation that the restructure has been completed.

And yesterday, it was reported that their worst fears had occurred: the plant would be shut off, and all remaining staff in Singapore would be laid off.

The reason for this lay-off?

IBM is now going to relocate the manufacturing of its mainframe computers to the US, saying this: “IBM’s continual review of the most efficient way to source (its) products…Poughkeepsie (place that will take over the manufacturing) already manufactures IBM Z, thus it already has the required skills, procedures, tools and manufacturing expertise.”

In other words, more jobs in Mexico last year, and more jobs in the US this year.

The number of workers affected isn’t revealed.

According to the sources from TODAYonline, most workers would leave by the end of this month while the rest would leave by the end of July.

In fact, they knew about the plant’s closure and retrenchment last month.

IBM staff would be receiving a month’s salary for each year of service as part of their compensation package, while stuff from a subcontractor that works for IBM would receive two weeks of salary for each year of service.

But IBM won’t be leaving Singapore completely; they still have other business units in Singapore, though they’re not manufacturing plants.

Authorities Stepped in to Help

Of course, when a large retrenchment like this happened, NTUC would spring into action.

And action they do.

IBM, as required by MOM laws, has informed MOM about the retrenchment so Workforce Singapore and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) of the NTUC will offer employment services support through the Adapt & Grow initiative.

You can watch more about the Adapt & Grow initiative that we’ve done here (yes, it’s a sponsored content but it’s still relevant here):

Mr Melvin Yong, the executive secretary of the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries, said, “The union is also working with the NTUC’s e2i to provide employment-related and placement assistance to these workers.”

Lesson of the day?

Universal Basic Income might not work, but skill upgrading would.

Because the days of “iron rice bowl” are over—I mean, it’s IBM we’re talking about, a technology company leh, not some CD player company leh.