Aerospace and aviation unions have halted a retrenchment exercise by Eagle Services Asia (ESA) as the company did not follow due process.
Despite ongoing negotiations, the management of ESA proceeded to let go of specific employees on 22 July 2020, before finalising a name list with the unions.
In a joint statement on 29 July 2020, NTUC, together with Air Transport Executive Staff Union (AESU), SIA Engineering Company Engineers and Executives Union (SEEU), and Singapore Airlines Staff Union (SIASU) said they immediately stepped in to stop any further action by the company until an agreement could be reached.
The statement came several days after the NTUC issued a call to companies to observe the Fair Retrenchment Framework (FRF) to protect workers’ rights and to ensure fair treatment for workers who are affected by retrenchments.
While negotiations were ongoing, the unions – with NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng’s authorisation – conducted a secret ballot to sanction legal industrial action to rectify any shortcomings and improve the retrenchment process.
The unions received immense support from their members, according to NTUC.
“I am glad that calm and good sense prevailed ultimately. We have since been able to reach an amicable agreement with the company on the retrenchment.
“By the time we concluded negotiations, we had jointly reviewed the name list of employees to be retrenched to ensure that the Singaporean Core is safeguarded to the extent possible, whilst giving due considerations to our foreign colleagues,” said Mr Ng on a Facebook post.
Through negotiations with NTUC and the union leaders, the management of ESA conceded that the retrenchment process could have been better managed.
The company then adhered to the advice of the congress and the unions, correcting the retrenchment process, and respecting the rights of their employees.
The negotiations managed to secure better outcomes for the affected employees, such as securing additional training grant for all affected union members.
NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) was on-site to provide support – helping match affected employees to job placement opportunities.
Meanwhile, union leaders assisted affected employees and provided support during the difficult time.
NTUC reiterated that while retrenchments may be inevitable, companies must exhaust all other options before making the call to retrench employees.
Where retrenchment is unavoidable, companies must ensure openness, transparency and consultation with unions and workers, and observe the guiding principles outlined in NTUC’s Fair Retrenchment Framework and the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment.