retrenchment, employees

The Union has confirmed that Panasonic is managing the retrenchment benefits stipulated in the Collective Agreement, which is higher than industry norms. Meanwhile, the Union is leading retrenchment support in the form of job placement assistance, training programmes, and more.

Panasonic will be ceasing the manufacturing of refrigeration compressors in Singapore by end-September 2022, and a total of 700 employees will be affected, the firm said in a statement on Thursday (23 September 2021).

This move comes "given the challenging global business outlook" and following a long-term business strategic review of its refrigeration compressor business portfolio, the statement noted.

In line with this, all compressor manufacturing operations will be consolidated to the firm's existing facilities in Malacca, Malaysia and Wuxi, China, including the casting operation over to its current factory in Malacca. However, the firm's R&D will continue operating in Singapore, and Singapore will continue to serve as the global headquarters of the refrigeration compressor business.

On the affected employees, Panasonic stated: "We are working very closely with the relevant authorities, government agencies, and United Workers of Electronics & Electrical Industries to ensure all affected employees are well-supported during this transition, including assisting with job placements.

"Singapore remains a regional and important hub for Panasonic. The Panasonic group in Singapore will continue to have more than 1,400 employees across various business domains, including high-value manufacturing, R&D and our Asia Pacific Headquarters. We will continue to invest in Singapore to support our growth strategies in the high-value supply chain and continue contributing to the communities in the Asia Pacific and beyond."

Following the announcement, the United Workers of Electronics & Electrical Industries released a statement sharing that it has secured a fair retrenchment package for the 700 affected employees.

The close partnership between PAPRDSG (Panasonic Appliances Refrigeration Devices Singapore), UWEEI, and the Economic Development Board (EDB) has been instrumental to ensure that the retrenchment exercise will be carried out in a transparent, fair, and responsible manner, observing the principles outlined in the NTUC Fair Retrenchment Framework as well as the existing Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment to the fullest extent possible.

"UWEEI understands that this decision does not come lightly to PAPRDSG and it is a difficult time for affected employees. In the immediate term, UWEEI’s priority is to continue working closely with PAPRDSG to ensure that affected employees receive the necessary assistance and support so that they receive fair treatment. The company is committed to paying employees the retrenchment benefits stipulated in the Collective Agreement, which is higher than industry norms."

The Union has also been working closely with relevant parties on the following:

  • Providing job placement assistance to affected employees (with NTUC's e2i and EDB)
  • Arranging virtual or physical job fairs and employability workshops with e2i for affected staff 
  • Vacancies in the same or adjacent sectors (working with other unionised companies)
  • For employees who need to undergo training to upskill or reskill, e2i will be facilitating the training and match them to suitable companies.
    • UWEEI members may tap on the Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) fund to offset training courses
  • UWEEI will also assist other members who may face financial hardship via our various assistance programmes.

NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Chee Hong Tat has also shared a Facebook post on the matter, following a visit to meet with the affected workers. He said: "I spoke to some of the affected workers. They are sad to see the production line closing down as they have been working here for many years, but they understood why the company had to take this painful decision. Initially, there were some concerns about the retrenchment package but these were quickly addressed after they heard the presentation from the company MD and HR Director.

"On behalf of NTUC and UWEEI, I would like to commend the management for working closely with the union to come up with a fair retrenchment package for our affected workers."

He added: "We encourage employers, including our unionised companies who are growing and hiring, to approach us and work with UWEEI to place these workers. Together, we can help our sisters and brothers to transit into new job roles that can tap on their many years of experience. This will be a win-win outcome for both employers and workers."

Lead photo / 123RF 

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