The Straits Times
Jan 12, 2009
Layoffs to rise
By Aaron Low
RETRENCHMENTS in the beleaguered electronics industry is expected to soar, with layoffs in the first three months of this year to equal that for the whole of last year.
The labour movement foresees about 2,000 workers losing their jobs by March. This is comparable to the 2,374 jobs lost last year.
The bleak figures were given by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) deputy secretary general Halimah Yacob on Monday morning.
Madam Halimah was speaking to reporters after her visit to 44 retrenched STMicroelectronics workers attending a training course at NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).
Of the tougher times ahead, she said several manufacturing companies has seen demand for their products drop by as much as 70 per cent.
She also urged companies which cannot hold onto their staff to work with the unions so that workers could be eased out of their jobs as humanely as possible.
'Handling restructuring and redundancies responsibly also benefits companies as it has to manage the morale of employees who remain behind,' said Madam Halimah.
'Also, these workers have given three-quarters of their lives to the companies and I am sure the companies want to be able to do the right thing.'
Analysts have said that this year may see layoffs surpass the 30,000 jobs lost in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis.
In the case of STMicroelectronics, 215 workers were laid off in December, partly as a result of a restructuring in the company that begun two years ago and affected 1,300 workers.
The United Workers of Electronic and Electrical Industries (UWEEI) union helped the company redeploy 500 workers but could not prevent the retrenchments.