Union should stand up to face more retrenchment
With Singapore's number one bank firing 900 staff, other banks and companies could take the cue and go into full drive to shed the unnecessary fat that they have accumulated during the hazy days of good profits. Time to start trimming the excesses and grow lean. What will the union do in the face of more workers facing the chopping block? Lim Swee Say has made the harshest comment so far on DBS. But what's next? We have more than 10 years in converting our rigid pay structure to a flexible one with built in flexi wage and bonuses just for a day like this. Apparently this has been forgotten and everyone is happily wielding the axe as the cure all of the ills of years of irrational exuberance. There are many other measures that can be implemented other than just axing staff, plus the flexi wage system. There is still a last cut from the CPF. But this is still a long way off. For companies that believe in equal misery and every employee is a member of the big family, that they are caring employers, the first thing to do is to cut bonuses and later wage reduction, early retirement etc. Given the present crisis, some jobs will not be there anymore and this is a unique problem of its own. The unions must have a list of criteria to look at before giving the nod for companies to cut jobs. Are the companies still profitable? What is the bottom line before union will agree to such a drastic measure? Have other alternatives been explored and adopted that are less painful? Would the retrenchment mean that those who stay will enjoy no loss in pay or benefits? And like it has happened before, after a few months, companies that retrenched staff start to hire again and paying huge bonuses that they benefited from the retrenchment. Companies also have a responsibility as a corporate citizen. If everyone is so trigger happy to cut staff, we will have a big unemployment problem in hand and many families are going to have a hard time. It is time that companies, especially those that are 'protected' in some ways be it monopoly or special privileges, connections etc be made to absord some of the pains of the recession and stop thinking that making profit is a guaranteed right of being. It is time that they accept that in bad times, they must absord some losses and look after their employees. The investors were told to take their losses for bad decisions in investing in wrong notes. The union should pass this message through and wave the red flag and cry foul.