SINGAPORE: Nestle has retrenched “a small number” of its employees in Singapore, it told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Jul 13), adding that the retrenchments were part of an implementation of new work processes within the company.
Nestle Singapore did not specify how many workers were retrenched but a company spokesperson said that “approximately 3 per cent of its 1,400 staff in Singapore” were affected. This could mean that about 42 employees lost their jobs.
In response to a query from Channel NewsAsia, the spokesperson said that the food and beverage company was “committed to being a business that thinks long-term and continuously evolves over the years to implement new processes and ways of working ... in a rapidly changing business environment”.
With the roll-out of these new processes, “some roles will no longer be available”, the spokesperson said, adding that “a small number of employees” across its various operations in Singapore were affected.
An employee, who was not affected by the retrenchment exercise and declined to be named, told Channel NewsAsia that the finance department - which comprised approximately 20 people - took the biggest hit when retrenchment letters were “suddenly” handed out on Wednesday.
Another employee, who was retrenched from the finance department, told Channel NewsAsia on condition of anonymity that nearly 10 people in the team were let go on Wednesday. The affected worker added that there were meetings with the management and that they were given “satisfactory” compensation.
Nestle Singapore said that it has engaged “an experienced outplacement agency to assist with personalised one-on-one career coaching and counselling” for affected employees. Those retrenched would also receive “expert support” in areas like resume and social media profile creation and connections with other job opportunities.
“We are going beyond advisory assistance to make practicable efforts to place affected employees in their next job - every affected employee will receive outplacement support to help find new employment,” said the company spokesperson.
The Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation said that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) was notified on Jul 12 of the retrenchment exercise at Nestle Singapore and it is in contact with the company to extend assistance to affected employees.
Apart from a corporate office in Changi Business Park, Nestle Singapore, which was established in 1912, also has manufacturing facilities and a research centre. A check on its website on Thursday shows that it is still recruiting in Singapore, with listings of nine executive and managerial positions in departments such as marketing.
The spokesperson said: “The status of Nestle Singapore as a market remains unchanged and we will continue to operate and contribute to the Nestle Group”.
LOCAL JOB MARKET STILL WEAK
The layoffs at Nestle reflect a job market in Singapore that remains far from rosy, even though latest figures from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) showed some signs of a budding pick-up.
Redundancies fell to 4,000 in the first quarter of 2017, from 5,440 in the quarter before, according to the MOM’s quarterly labour market report released in June. The figure was also lower than the same period a year ago, where 4,710 workers were laid off. Over the first three months of 2017, there were fewer redundancies in the manufacturing and services sectors, though the construction industry saw an increase.
Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) remained “over-represented among those laid off”, accounting for 71 per cent of the residents made redundant.
Despite a brightening in Singapore’s external outlook, economists have previously cautioned that the job market will likely remain weak in 2017 amid an uneven economic recovery and businesses still reluctant to hire. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), in the April edition of its biannual macroeconomic review, also said that unemployment rates may rise slightly this year amid soft labour demand.