A penny wise, pound foolish GLC?

By: KW Ang

Look, Mr Loh Chin Hua, any Tom, Dick and Harry can play CEO by effecting retrenchment to ‘cut costs’. Keppel Corp’s 2016 net profit came in at S$784 million. That excludes the past years reserve, suffice to say you’re not at the brink of bankruptcy like Swiber.

The axed 10,600 ill-fated employees are casualties of oil price war. They’ve mouths to feed. They’ve instalments to pay. They’ve bills to foot. Were they ‘handsomely rewarded’ when oil price was trading at US$100/barrel? I doubt so.

Further, not only the retrenched employees feel the burden of retrenchment. Even the “survivors” will need support,encouragement, and counseling to be able to cope. The ones who remained may still be in shock of possibly increased workload with fewer hands to share the responsibilities.

A CEO worth his salt will explore alternatives like cost-cutting on consumable office supplies; freeze hiring (especially on temporary), casual, and project staff; shorter work hours and overtime restrictions; wage reduction; internal transfer of excess manpower; and voluntary redundancy and retirement measures.

Or did you take a leaf off Jurong Surbana’s distastefully crafted book?

The failed project, Highline Residence where Keppel had bidded out-of-this-world record price for the government land parcel and barely selling a single unit a month nowadays. The ‘paper loss’, interest paid, hurdle rates, etc would have fed the entire 10,600 retrenched crews for several years!

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