TL;DR – It pays (literally) to have someone watch your back!
When I read the news that the 41-year-old Jurong Country Club was due to close to make way for the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR), I must admit my first thought was – “Wah! Cheap holiday in KL!” It was my dad, the ever-pragmatic individual, who was next to me when I was reading the papers that said “Close down ah… confirm got retrenchment, poor thing.”
In this current economic gloom and doom, that certainly wasn’t a happy thought to entertain. That whole situation could have gone really badly, with over 100 staff being asked to pack their bags and leave but when this surfaced in the news again recently, I was surprised to hear that things actually turned out pretty well. These were two particular points that really jumped out at me that honestly could have gone either way:
Horror of horrors… there was no Collective Agreement (CA)
According to the Industrial Arbitration Court in Singapore, a Collective Agreement (CA) is an agreement made between an employer and a trade union of employees on the terms and conditions of employment for the employees. Typically, it outlines employment terms such as leave, termination, remuneration, benefits etc and is the outcome of tireless negotiation.
In JCC’s case, they had NO pre-agreed upon CA which meant the company technically didn’t even need to give any retrenchment benefits. Thankfully, the Attraction, Resorts & Entertainment Union (AREU) managed to put a CA in place and staff who worked less than 2 years at JCC got half a month salary for every year while those who worked for more than 2 years got a month for every year.
Props to the unionists who made it happen and to JCC for putting their staff first and getting out a CA that was fair to the workers. Beers all round good men!
Many staff were old fogeys
The Straits Times mentioned that there were 16 staff over the age of 62. Quite frankly, I can’t imagine how terrifying it is to come to work (the same job you’ve been doing for maybe a decade) and be told that you have to leave. “Where would I go? What can I do?” Clearly, these old fogeys (don’t mind my language) aren’t in the prime of their life or up to competing with younglings who are all about the newest Snapchat filter, Pokemon GO (guilty as charged here as well :S) and Chun Cui He milk tea.
Again, the AREU swooped in to kick start employment counselling and training so at least they wouldn’t have to brave the “new world” alone. Remember what happened to the Double Negative staff?
“JCC president Bobby Wee said: “The club is working closely with the Attractions, Resorts & Entertainment Union (AREU) and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to facilitate employment counselling and re-skilling, including approving time-off for staff to go for training as well as to attend interviews nearer to the end date.”
Retrenchment under any circumstance is never easy but it definitely helps to have responsible bosses, union representation and lots of support from family+friends+colleagues.
MOM on Retrenchment
What happens if I’m retrenched?
Double Negative’s sudden closure and what it means for Singaporeans
Dneg: Layoffs and the zero sum game we play
Why would I pay $9 for union membership