TL;DR – Angry.
We are enraged. SPH, how can you be so heartless? Yes. You need to cut costs. There are many ways. Like cutting the pay of your CEO perhaps. Ok. You chose not to do that. Instead, you chose to cut jobs. Fine. We understand.
But do you have to accelerate the original plans?
Alright. You don’t want to drag the retrenchment process out over two years. Why you think that’s better is still a mystery to us. But ok. There might be some benefits in that. Or there might be reasons we don’t know about.
But must you rush through things?
An insider told us that at 4pm the same day the news was announced, some SPH staff suddenly found themselves locked out of their IT systems. That’s when it dawned upon them that they were amongst those retrenched.
That’s right. Some of those who were retrenched found out because they were unceremoniously locked out of their computers. Some of those staff had worked decades with SPH. Yet, SPH didn’t even see fit to give them a dignified farewell, let alone thank them.
Why such rush?
Why must the retrenchment take immediate effect? Couldn’t SPH give their staff advance notice of a month? What’s wrong with doing that? Are they worried that those staff who are retrenched might do things to sabotage the operations of SPH? Are they worried that their staff will steal sensitive information? Do they have such little trust in their staff?
We don’t know the thinking behind SPH’s management. We seriously can’t think of any benefit for rushing things through. Instead, rushing things through the way they did is problematic. The rush meant that those who were retrenched weren’t able to properly hand over their work.
Also, from what we understand, not even the editors were told beforehand who in their teams were to be let go and who would stay. They didn’t have time to distribute the workload properly amongst those who are staying. So there will likely be a mess in operations at SPH for the next days and even weeks to come.
Not doing right by their staff
And because of the rush, the people who are retrenched weren’t properly briefed about the help and avenues that they could access upon their exit from SPH. Many of them didn’t know that the Creative Media and Publishing Union (CMPU) and the Employment and Employment Institute (e2i) had actually ‘set up shop’ within the SPH building on that day to help those retrenched.
And that’s a waste. Because from what we’d heard, the union and e2i are on standby and are going all out to help those retrenched to get new jobs in the same industry or to re-skill so that they can find jobs in other industries.
But more importantly, was the retrenchment decision really the last resort?
Retrenchment should not be a first resort; in fact, it should be the last resort. The Singapore government and the labour movement have always advocated to first retrain/redeploy, and in the worst case scenerio, then retrench.
Has SPH really explored all options? Last we checked, SPH is a diversified group and they’re not just in the publishing business. Hey, they run businesses from newspapers, to magazines, to property developments, including shopping malls and even nursing homes.
Many of the sectors SPH is in are sectors known to be hungry for manpower. Did they consider if the affected staff can be redeployed to other business units?
Hopefully, the new CEO and his management team do not specialise in just cost-cutting measures, but are actually good at running profitable outfits and at business development. And we hope they have a heart.
Update: Read our follow-up piece on 5 Things We learnt from Insider Sources about SPH’s Retrenchment here.