Millennium Hotels and Resorts lays off 159 employees in Singapore amid COVID-19 impact

Millennium Hotels and Resorts lays off 159 employees in Singapore amid COVID-19 impact

Millennium Hotels and Resorts collage
Millennium Hotels and Resorts owns six hotels in Singapore, including (from left) Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Copthorne King's Hotel and M Social. (Photos: Facebook)

SINGAPORE: Millennium Hotels and Resorts has laid off 159 employees as the economic fallout of COVID-19 hits the tourism and hospitality industry hard, the company said on Wednesday (Aug 19).

"Millennium Hotels and Resorts in Singapore has embarked on a workforce rationalisation and right-sizing plan following a rigorous review of its Singapore corporate office and hotel operations," it said in a press release.

"This is a difficult but inevitable move considering the business recovery outlook on the hospitality industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Millennium Hotels and Resorts owns six hotels in Singapore: Copthorne King’s Hotel, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Orchard Hotel, M Hotel, M Social and Studio M Hotel.

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Between January and mid-August, Millennium Hotels and Resorts reduced its foreign employee population in Singapore from 520 to 329, or a reduction of 37 per cent, said the company.

Wednesday's "right-sizing efforts" would result in 159 employees being laid off, it said. This constitutes 15.2 per cent of Millennium Hotels and Resorts' Singapore-based workforce.

"Following this layoff today, there will be an additional reduction of 42 foreign employees, in total reducing our foreign employee dependency by 45 per cent," the company said.

"This will bring our Singapore core from 61 per cent in January to 69 per cent today."

COVID-19 HITS HOTELS

Nearly a third of Millennium Hotels and Resorts' more than 145 hotels around the world were temporarily closed as at Jun 30, and those that remained open were operating at much lower occupancy rates than before, the company said.

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"This global pandemic has severely disrupted our lives and businesses in unprecedented ways," said Millennium Hotels and Resorts' vice president of human resources for Southeast Asia, Mr John Tan. 

"We need to recognise that in this new economy our business will take time to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, thus the rationalisation is unavoidable for our business to remain relevant and viable for our employees and stakeholders."

The firm said it had implemented several measures to navigate through the global crisis since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These included tightening of company-wide expenditures, salary reductions for the senior leaders of up to 30 per cent, graduated pay reductions for other "corporate and hotel level employees", and laying off and furloughing excess manpower across various regions.

In a separate statement, the Food Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU) said it had been working with Millennium Hotels and Resorts to implement cost-saving measures comprising redesigning of jobs, training and redeployment of workers and group-wide wage reduction.

The salaries of workers earning below S$4,600 were also protected, with no salary cuts to date, the union said.

"Even with the cost-savings measures in place, Millennium Hotels and Resorts still suffered losses globally and locally, and had to turn to retrenchment as the last resort," said FDAWU.

READ: Singapore jobless rate hits 2.9%, highest in more than a decade; retrenchments double

UNION SUPPORTS AFFECTED WORKERS

Millennium Hotels and Resorts said that it had actively engaged FDAWU to achieve a "fair and responsible outcome" for the 159 affected employees.

In addition to a severance package, post-employment support in consultation with FDAWU, the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and Workforce Singapore will be offered to the affected employees, the company said.

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FDAWU said that it had secured the retrenchment package for workers represented under the collective agreements at Millennium Hotels and Resorts' four unionised hotels: Copthorne King’s Hotel, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Orchard Hotel and M Hotel.

This included a retrenchment benefit of one month for each year of service, and advance notice, or salary-in lieu of notice, provided for under the collective agreements.

Millennium Hotels and Resorts' corporate office, M Social and Studio M Hotel are not unionised.

FDAWU also arranged job matching assistance by e2i and training support by NTUC LearningHub and SkillsFuture Singapore for the affected workers, it said.

Source: CNA/dv(rw)

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