TL;DR – We hope SPH finds whatever floats their boat.
Last week we wrote about the deafening silence from SPH about whether they are going to retrench their staff.
The day (on 14 October) after we published that article, SPH released their financial results. TechInAsia wrote about it. And they very aptly used a sinking ship as their featured image. Why is that image apt? Because the financial results looked quite grim. Ghastly, even.
As you can see, SPH’s revenue from media business has dropped for four years consecutively. Net profit after tax has fallen 17%. Suffice to say, all is not going swimmingly well at SPH.
So what is SPH going to do about it?
It’s a busy day for the management at SPH today, Other than holding a townhall for their staff in the early evening, they also shared their plans on how to chart forward. They’ve announced a number of measures. These include:
- Merging The New Paper and MyPaper into a revamped The New Paper.
- Forming an integrated marketing division that “provides advertisers with a more effective and multi-platform reach to their audiences”. It was formed in September from merging the company’s print, digital, radio and out-of-home sales teams. It is supposed to “deliver optimised advertising solutions using data analytics for better audience insights”.
- Carrying out a “right-sizing” exercise to reduce operating costs. That’s just a nice way of saying that SPH is going to reduce their staff strength. SPH will cut their staff strength by 10% over two years. It will be done through attrition, retirement, non-renewal of contracts, outplacement and retrenchment.
Of all the ways that SPH is going to cut their staff strength, retrenchment is probably the one that will hit the affected staff the hardest. Those affected will be the least prepared. And SPH isn’t making it any easier for them. SPH’s management only informed the union representing SPH’a employees half an hour before announcing it to its staff.
In fact, as recent as last Friday (14 October), SPH had given assurances to the Creative Media and Publishing Union (CMPU), which represents workers including those from SPH. In a statement to Yahoo Singapore, Mindy Kwok, CMPU General Secretary said,
“When we (CMPU) saw the online news (about the planned restructuring), we immediately engaged the management to seek clarifications. The management shared that it was speculative reporting and gave assurance that they will work closely with the union if there are indeed such plans.”
Flip-flopped over the weekend
That was on Friday. Just one weekend later, on Monday, SPH’s threw its earlier assurance to CMPU out the window. Just one weekend.
And how much time did they give the CMPU? Only half an hour before they announced to its staff. How can SPH expect CMPU to put together anything to reassure their members?
It’s no wonder that the CMPU is “deeply concerned”. Nonetheless, CMPU “will work with the management to work out fair retrenchment package for our members and ensure that SPH practices responsible retrenchment by giving suitable notice period to affected workers”.
More importantly, CMPU hopes that the management at SPH will be responsible and cut existing manpower only as a last resort. They hope that SPH will consider and explore all alternative ways of managing their manpower where possible. The CMPU has expressed that they are open to “explore other ways to reduce cost, or explore redeployment of affected staff to other areas of work”.
Here is the full statement from Mr David Teo, President of CMPU:
“The Creative Media and Publishing Union was informed by Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH) management of their plan to reduce manpower by up to 10 percent over the next two years, during a meeting with the management before SPH’s townhall session with its employees. We are also deeply concerned that union was informed about the impending retrenchments and rightsizing only half an hour before the townhall meeting.
We will be working closely with the management to work out fair retrenchment package for our members and ensure that SPH practices responsible retrenchment by giving suitable notice period to affected workers. And more importantly, we are open to work with the management to explore other ways to reduce cost, or explore redeployment of affected staff to other areas of work. Responsible managements should consider and explore all alternative ways of managing their manpower where possible before cutting existing manpower. The union will also help all affected members tide over this difficult time by rendering assistance in all ways that we can offer, such as job placement, career coaching, training to take on new jobs and coping with possible financial difficulties.”
Hopefully, for the sake of the staff at SPH, the management will take up CMPU’s offer.