NTUC (& Other Unions) Was The Unsung Hero to Stop Retrenchment in Eagle Services Asia (Temporarily)

Not all heroes were underwear on the outside of their pants or ridiculous bat ears on the sides of their face.

Some heroes come in the form of national trade union centres.

Image: Tenor

See, while Batman and Superman can swoop in to save you from a robber or serial killer, they can’t do anything when your company unfairly retrenches you.

Batman: But I can, like, you know, punch the bosses.

Yes, we know you like to punch people, Batman.

When employees from Eagles Service Asia were unfairly treated, for instance, it was NTUC that swooped in to save the day.

144 Employees Retrenched Over 3 Days

A few days ago, a report by Lianhe Wanbao revealed that 144 employees from Eagles Service Asia (ESA) were reportedly retrenched over three days.

That seems a bit much, doesn’t it?

ESA is a joint venture between Singapore Airlines (SIA) Engineering Company and original equipment manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, according to Mothership. 

Many employees were reportedly displeased with the way ESA had conducted the retrenchment exercise, as they were only informed of their redundancy after arriving at work.

Then, they had to pack up and leave the place as soon as they received the notice. Some had it worse, though.

In the second retrenchment exercise, some workers allegedly couldn’t even enter the premises and had to speak to union workers outside the office instead.

NTUC & Other Unions Halt Retrenchment Exercise

When The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) heard this was happening, they were like:

Image: Tenor

NTUC and other unions in the aerospace and aviation cluster stepped in to halt the retrenchment exercise by ESA, citing unfair retrenchment practices.

In a joint statement, the unions claimed that ESA released specific employees on 22 July before finalising the list of affected employees with the unions.

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At the time, ESA had ongoing negotiations with Air Transport Executive Staff Union (AESU), SIA Engineering Company Engineers and Executives Union (SEEU), and Singapore Airlines Staff Union (SIASU).

The unions informed NTUC that ESA had started informing employees that they may be retrenched, so NTUC and the unions stepped in to put a stop to the proceedings.

“The lack of transparency and disregard for negotiations with the unions is not acceptable and is not how a retrenchment exercise should be conducted,” the statement said.

The unions conducted a secret ballot under the authorisation of NTUC chief Ng Chee Meng to pursue legal action to improve the retrenchment process, and union members supported the move.

“We Will Stand Up For Our Worker’s Dignity”

NTUC’s secretary-general said that the union would ” stand up to protect our workers” in a Facebook post on Wednesday (29 July).


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If you’re wondering why the place you buy your eggs from is so concerned about the rights of workers, that’s because NTUC and FairPrice, though often used interchangeably, are two different things.


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The role of NTUC, as any trade union, is to:

  • Promote good industrial relations between workers and employers
  • Improve the working conditions, as well as the economic and social status of workers
  • Increase productivity for the benefit of workmen, employers and the economy of Singapore

In his post, Ng said: “While NTUC respects management’s needed measures to keep the business viable, we will stand up for our workers’ dignity, interests and fair play”, Ng wrote.

Image: Tenor

ESA’s Response

A spokesperson from Pratt & Whitney maintained that the decision to axe some workers “was not taken lightly.”

They explained that they were dealing with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and had already implemented many cost-containment measures.

These measures include a temporary salary reduction and short work week, cancelled merit increases, hiring freezes and discretionary spending cuts.


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ESA’s management, however, concluded that they could have better handled the retrenchment process.

The company has since given affected employees additional training grants on top of a fair compensation package.

It’s reassuring that at a time when many businesses are crumbling under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, the authorities are committed to protecting workers from such practices.

Well done, guys.

Image: Giphy
This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying:
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