By: Phillip Ang
Keppel Corporation (KepCorp), the world’s biggest oil rig maker, recently reported an expected set of lousy results and 10,600 job cuts in its Offshore and Marine division in 2016.
On KepCorp’s payroll are full-time employees and those on subcontract. Last year, it was reported that KepCorp had already cut some 6,000 full-time employees in 2015.
Although KepCorp has slashed thousands of employees from its payroll, not once was the cost of retrenchment exercise mentioned. It appears many employees must have been terminated to help KepCorp save million$ in retrenchment benefits. KepCorp should clarify.
To understand this uniquely Singaporean government-linked company phenomenon, look no further than Surbana Jurong which has recently terminated – instead of retrenching – its employees. GLCs are able to blatantly exploit employees because they have pro-business “workers’ unions” and government agencies on their side.
Surbana Group CEO Wong initially came out strongly to defend the wrongful termination of 54 employees in order to pad Temasek’s, not only Surbana’s, bottom line. It was reported on TOC that affected employees were forced to resign or be terminated.
MOM is now investigating the case of wrongful dismissal after Surbana and Wong received much flak but, likely, no action will be taken against Surbana.
This is because great leader CEO Wong has been allowed to explain away his incompetence – all he needs to do is make “a commitment to work on strengthening labour management relations”. This was somehow agreeable to the 2 “workers’ unions”.
Great leader Wong should be held accountable because he either didn’t know what his HR was up to or had endorsed their action despite knowing unions had to be first informed. In his 35-year career earning tens of million$ in indirect tax dollars at various GLCs, how could Wong have been unaware union rules had been flouted?
Since it was clearly a case of wrongful dismissal, Surbana should reinstate the employees as it is impossible to presently find a job with the same pay, or even one. It is unlikely that compensation will ever be fair, or an “equitable and mutually agreeable arrangement” will be provided as the same screwed up unions are also involved in the negotiation.
The treatment, I mean exploitation, of employees has been a concern for decades because pro business PAP-appointed workers’ unions are in fact pseudo unions. These unions have the backing of the entire government machinery and exploited employees of course have to “kwai kwai”, or rather “L L”, except any deal on the table and move on.
Like Surbana, KepCorp is another GLC which would not think twice about exploiting its employees as blatantly as Surbana did. Both are also under Temasek’s protective umbrella and you know I know who is in charge.
If KepCorp has not wrongfully terminated its employees, “retrenchment” should not be a bad word. How much have employees been compensated? Or likely ZERO just like sister company Surbana?