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Singapore unionised sector sees 11.8% more lay-offs in 2015

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The brittle economic sentiment seemed to weigh down on the unionised sector with more workers laid off last year as compared with 2014.

THE brittle economic sentiment seemed to weigh down on the unionised sector with more workers laid off last year as compared with 2014.

Some 2,512 workers from 45 unionised companies were displaced from their jobs in 2015, an increase of 11.8 per cent from the 2,246 who were let go in 2014.

Workers in the manufacturing sector accounted for 93 per cent of those laid off last year, said the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) in its outlook for the unionised sector for 2016.

Only the healthcare, security, air transport and pharmaceutical sectors registered positive outlook for the year ahead, with the bulk of the manufacturing, retail and hotel sectors casting a mixed to weak outlook.

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Looking forward, some 234 workers may get retrenched in the first quarter of this year, a 31 per cent increase from the same period of last year. "Moving into 2016, the economy continues to be quite subdued, hence this trend is not unexpected," said Cham Hui Fong, assistant secretary-general of NTUC, at a press briefing on Friday.

But Ms Cham cautioned against alarm, as some of those who make up these expected 234 workers come from planned retrenchments in 2015. "We're hoping that it could just be cyclical, and we can turn over quite quickly then that could be fine," she said.

In another sign of weaker economic outlook, some 2,098 workers from nine companies went on shorter workweek last year as business volumes fell, an increase of 59 per cent compared to 1,323 from five companies in 2014.

The number of workers approaching NTUC for advice and representation on workplace issues last year also marked a new high with 2,851 workers recorded. Queries and seeking of advice on workplace disputes each formed about half of the number.

Despite the tightness in the labour market, annual increment for workers in unionised companies in 2015 is expected to dip to 4 per cent, from 4.3 per cent in 2014.

In terms of bonus payout, NTUC sees unionised companies giving out an average of 2.98 months in 2015, a slight increase from 2.89 months in 2014.

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