SPH photographers & editorial staff bear brunt of retrenchment exercise

Some reported for work and were told to leave by 6pm.

By Belmont Lay | October 13, 2017

Word trickling out of Singapore Press Holdings Toa Payoh North office has not been pretty.

A day after SPH chief executive Ng Yat Chung gave the group’s results briefing and made the announcement that retrenchments will be brought forward by one year, the staff-cutting exercise was enacted in earnest on Thursday, Oct. 12.

Same day termination

According to sources inside SPH, the mood was grim and morale was low. Even though staff cuts are expected to be completed by year-end, some of these cuts have taken immediate effect.

Tables were cleared out the same day termination was carried out.

A two-hour town hall meeting was called to justify the staff cuts and to close ranks internally.

But it was expected to be of little comfort.

This is so as even though advertising revenue fell by S$103 million, or 16.9 percent year-on-year in financial year 2017, full year net profit for SPH overall still rose 32 percent to S$350.1 million from the previous financial year.

In other words, a company had resorted to retrenchment in times of profit.

Photographers and editorial staff bore brunt

Most affected were the long-serving photographers and editorial staff from The Straits Times (ST), Business Times (BT) and Chinese language daily Lianhe Zaobao (ZB).

According to an unofficial count by Mothership.sg, TNP cut at least four staff, while ST cut 14 employees.

Yahoo News SingaporeĀ made similar estimates and reported that seven from ST’sĀ Life! section were let go, as well as 15 employees at BT.

They ranged from relatively junior employees to veterans who had been with the company for decades.

Retrenchment remuneration is said to be market rate: One month salary for each year’s service, as recommended by the Ministry of Manpower.

For employees who are 58 years old and above, an additional month of remuneration is added for each year above that age.

Retrenched staff couldn’t log in to system

Yahoo News SingaporeĀ reported based on sources that some employees came to work on Thursday afternoon to find their work accounts disabled, only to be informed later that they had to exit the premises by 6pm.

This is similar to what Mothership.sg understands from a source inside the newsroom.

TheĀ one long-time staff who had spent more than 20 years in SPH went through the harrowing experience of finding out that he/ she was retrenched when he/ she could no longer log into the computer network in the afternoon after reporting for work.

There is also reportedly a sense of survivor guilt among those who did not get retrenched.

If you are one of those affected by Singapore Press Holdings retrenchment exercise, do contact us at [email protected] if you wish to share your experience. Your identity will be kept anonymous and any identifiers removed.

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Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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